500.A15A4/1190: Telegram

The Acting Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary of State

282. Your 152, June 27, 4 p.m., was just what we needed.

As Simon was returning from London today by air to report to the Prime Minister this evening we considered it urgent to get your message to the latter and accordingly decided that the best course was for me to go to Lausanne and see him this afternoon.

I communicated your message to him and when I had completed what I had to say he said he was greatly relieved, that quite frankly he had been “very much worried” and that this message removed all misgivings from his mind and strengthened his hand for the next steps.

He then said that he could give me some further information of a rather more hopeful character; that last night he had received a draft text of a further British statement which it is my understanding had been prepared by Simon with certain other Ministers for consideration by the Cabinet. The Prime Minister said that he had gone over this once with Chamberlain and Runciman and that after one reading they had “without hesitation” put a “firm veto” on its adoption. He said that the substance of the statement was really good but that it was “full of barbs” and unsuitable for the purpose. He said he had sent word to Baldwin that he would be very glad to have this whole matter considered by the Cabinet for the purpose of submitting their views to him, but that when he heard Simon’s report he would be ready to decide whether a further statement was necessary or whether it was desirable to defer action until he could return to London and confer with the Cabinet himself.

The Prime Minister said that he had got the French and Germans together this morning to discuss reparations but that at the end of [Page 243]the meeting things were rather worse than at the start; that he was having another meeting with them when I left but that he really did not know how matters were going to turn out. He said he could not say which of the two was more unreasonable. He seemed distinctly distressed.

I asked him what the prospects were of his being able to come to Geneva himself in view of what he had said last Sunday. He said this presented great difficulties as he must as soon as possible get back to London to give 3 or 4 days to preparing the delegates who were leaving for Ottawa9 on July 14th and that this rendered it difficult for him to find any time for Geneva. Even if this difficulty were surmounted we have confirmation from other sources of what the Prime Minister told us on Sunday that he would be embarrassed in coming to Geneva by Simon’s resentment of his dealing with disarmament problems.

In conclusion he said he was confident we should be able to work out something which might not acquiesce in the identic terms of the President’s proposal but would be in full harmony with its spirit and would achieve its purpose with which he was in entire sympathy.

As I was leaving I met Herriot who stopped me to ask whether the statement he had made in Paris10 had been a source of embarrassment to us. I said it had not but that I felt that when he had had fuller opportunity to study the President’s proposal he would revise some of the views he had expressed. He said that he had already given such study to the President’s plan as had been possible in view of the other pressing matters with which he had to deal and that he liked the plan better than he had at first; that he proposed to go into it very thoroughly as soon as he could; that nobody wanted more than he did to achieve its fundamental purpose and that we could be sure he would devote his best efforts to that end.

  1. The Ottawa Imperial Economic Conference, July 21–August 20, 1932.
  2. See telegram No. 394, June 25, 9 p.m., from the Chargé in France, p. 222.