741.5111 European Co-operation/11

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation With the British Ambassador (Lindsay)

The British Ambassador presented a paper which he said contained the Franco-British Agreement, which was mentioned in the Times this morning, with some additional declarations added to it, and he handed me the paper which is attached to this memorandum.36 I read it. The Ambassador said that his Government was most solicitous [Page 693] that we should not suspect any combination between the French and the British against the United States which, he added, was an element that they always took into consideration whenever they had to establish any entente with the French. They always had in mind their sad trouble with the Franco-British Naval Agreement of 1928.37

I replied that I thought his statement was correct as to this agreement, although when I read it in the Times I thought the language of the Covenant in the article marked “First” was a little obscure, but I added that the difficulty in this connection was not with this agreement but with the so-called “gentlemen’s agreement”.38 This latter agreement did not alone seek to protect each individual nation from being bound to its covenants as to reparation until it had separately made a satisfactory debt settlement with us, but it seemed to provide that nobody could make a permanent settlement as to reparations, and possibly, as to its own debts to us, until every other nation had made such an arrangement. This seemed to be an attempt to make a common front against us and to compel us to give up the method of individual settlement with our debtor nations, which we had carried out originally and which Mr. Hoover had proposed in the moratorium agreement last year, and to compel us to sit down at a round table with all our debtors—a process which we had always declined to do. I told him frankly that this phase of the so-called “gentlemen’s agreement” had excited a good deal of comment and criticism. The Ambassador admitted that he found that to be true. He asked me whether there was any likelihood of negotiations for a debt settlement being undertaken before election. I told the Ambassador that I could inform him that I did not see any likelihood of such negotiations being undertaken now, but I said that I had learned that it was dangerous to prophesy about what would happen after election because if we said that we could not negotiate before election, it would at once be assumed that we had made a secret agreement to negotiate after election and I told him that I had already been visited by one Senator this morning who had warned me against that. The Ambassador laughed and said he had not thought of that before.

H[enry] L. S[timson]