The Ambassador in France (Edge) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 18—1:35 p.m.]
42. My 41, January 16th. Laval sent word this morning through his Chief of Cabinet87 that he would like to clear up one or two points regarding our talk Saturday. I had Armour go over and after a talk with the Chief of Cabinet the latter said Laval would like to see him. Laval said that he did not wish us to get the idea that he was considering seriously the British suggestion for an international conference along the lines he had indicated on Saturday. He reiterated this was entirely a British suggestion. He said that of course we must know that his Government would not last 5 minutes if it were thought that it was ready to surrender France’s rights under the Young Plan by which a considerable balance remains after the amount due on her debts has been paid. So far as his Government was concerned it had started nothing more than an extension of the present Hoover moratorium for a year or two if necessary to enable Germany to tide over the present crisis. He said that he expected to go before Parliament tomorrow with a [Page 651]moratorium extension as the Government’s present proposal and that at the same time he would explain that the Government would not bind France to such a moratorium unless or until such prolongation had the approval of the United States. He receded somewhat from his position of Saturday in that he indicated that a reply tomorrow before his going to the Chamber was not essential.
As to the Lausanne Conference, Laval said that while he would go if necessary, as he did not care by what machinery the arrangement was arrived at, he did not consider that such a conference now would serve any useful purpose although he admitted that the Germans were insisting on it. In any case he expects to get in touch with the British after the vote in the Chamber of Deputies tomorrow. (I do not think we should lose sight of the fact that with Briand’s withdrawal from the Government, a victory for Laval tomorrow while probable is not a foregone conclusion. In fact he indicated this morning that Briand’s friends might create difficulties).
Laval added that after Tuesday he might even see MacDonald as the British Premier had some time ago indicated to him that he would like to talk with him.
- Léon Noël.↩