The Minister in Egypt (Jardine) to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received 5:15 p.m.]
93. My telegram No. 92, August 25, 8 p.m. I called on the Prime Minister this morning at his request at which time he expressed the desire to discuss with me the practicability of calling an international conference composed of representatives of the principal cotton producing countries to work out a common cotton policy in the light of the note verbale of the Egyptian Government which I communicated to the Department yesterday. He emphasized the urgent necessity of action from the point of view of Egypt and desired to ascertain whether I thought such a conference ought to be called and where it should be called. He informed me that no other governments had been approached on the subject as the Egyptian Government desired to await an expression of opinion from the United States as the most important cotton producing country are [and?] whose non-participation in the proposed conference or inquiry would render such deliberations nugatory.[Page 162]
I informed the Prime Minister that I had yesterday afternoon communicated the views of the Egyptian Government to my Government and that I preferred not to raise any illusory hopes by an expression of my opinion and for that reason preferred to await the reply of my Government to the proposal before offering my comment. I stated it as my personal opinion, however, that if a conference was held, it should be preferably convoked in the United States where its deliberations would be more accessible to the various interested states of the United States and where, in coming in contact with others than regularly appointed delegates, a better appreciation might be obtained by the representatives of foreign governments of the inherent difficulties in the way of the legislative enactment and enforcement of restrictive measures on the part of the United States such as are possible to other governments.
The Prime Minister stated he could not but believe that a study of the problems confronting the several cotton producing countries and an exchange of views with regard thereto and the formulation of recommendations would be beneficial while he was hopeful that constructive measures looking to the bringing of supply more in harmony with demand might be attainable.
He is of the opinion that the chief cotton producing countries should be invited to participate, including if possible Russia, an opinion in which I concur.
I cannot perceive any grounds of objection to the proposed conference if the limitations under which the United States would be obliged to enter it were made plain. While I have endeavored to point out to the Prime Minister the difficulties in the way of the formulation of enforcible binding decisions by such a conference, and have endeavored to explain that its conclusions at best might only be expected to have the character of recommendations, I am of the opinion that the moral authority calculated to be given the conclusions might have beneficial results and that the occasion might well be welcomed for an exchange of views of the problems involved in the case of each participating country.
[Paraphrase.] The Egyptian Government’s concern over the situation is such that a receptive consideration of its proposal for a conference would create a most favorable impression. In view of the early commencement of the cotton season, a conference would have to be convened not later than the first of October in order to accomplish results most desirable for Egypt. [End paraphrase.]