882.01 Foreign Control/488: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State

32. From Reber. The Liberian Committee met this afternoon. In a preliminary explanation Cecil pointed out that while the Council Committee must refrain from expressing under these circumstances any opinion with regard to the dispute between the Finance Corporation and the Government of Liberia it must consider that such action as that taken by the Liberian Government was inconsistent with the provisions of the scheme of assistance which envisaged an agreement between the Finance Corporation and Liberia. He added that he did not see how financial negotiations could continue as long as the suspension of payments remains in force.

I thereupon explained the American position and urged the Committee to impress upon the Liberian Government the necessity for withdrawing its actions in contravention of the loan agreement and of reverting to the status prior to December 17. Mentioning the Finance Corporation’s expressed willingness to send a representative to Geneva when the Joint Resolution, et cetera, has been repealed, I then read the statement quoted in the fifth paragraph of the Department’s 11, January 28, 5 p.m.

The Committee then empowered Lord Cecil to draft, in conjunction with the American and Liberian representatives, a telegram from the President of the Committee to the President of Liberia embodying the results of the Committee’s discussions.

The German representative in the name of his Government wished to announce that it had lent no support whatsoever to any attempt by Liberia to devise a scheme of financial or administrative changes not in accordance with the Committee’s plan of assistance which envisaged agreement between the Liberian Government and the American financial groups. Cecil, in behalf of the members of the Committee, made a similar declaration.

The telegram to Barclay as drafted reads as follows:

“Your telegram January 28th states that Liberian Government is prepared to give sympathetic consideration to any proposals appropriate to present economic and financial situation of Liberia.

“Committee has taken note of it and conveys to you following statement [Page 894] made by the American representative on behalf of the Finance Corporation:

The Finance Corporation, not unappreciative of the present fiscal difficulties of Liberia, irrespective of their origin, would be prepared (in the event that the legislation of December 17, 1932, and subsequent orders and actions relating thereto have been withdrawn) to recognize the “de facto” existence of a moratorium for such time, not to exceed 2 months from the date of the anticipated Liberian withdrawal, as might be required for the inauguration of their direct negotiations with Liberia at Geneva and for such further time not exceeding 6 months as may be reasonably required for the conclusion of such negotiations. The Corporation will take all measures necessary, including the sending of representatives to Geneva, to enable the negotiations to begin as soon as possible after the date of the anticipated withdrawal and in any case within the said period of 2 months.

“Committee hopes that in view of the new situation thus created Liberian Government will feel able to suspend the operation of the measures referred to in the declaration of the Finance Corporation as suggested in your government’s telegram to Liberian Legation, Paris, on January 16th.”28

It will be noted that the statement of the Finance Corporation has been amended, at Cecil’s request, to suggest the extension of a moratorium during the period of the negotiations and to provide for the sending of financial representatives to Geneva to begin the negotiations when the objectionable legislation has been withdrawn. The suggestions referred to in the last paragraph of the draft telegram are contained in the memorandum submitted by Bogaerde (Paris Embassy’s 27, January 20, 7 [6] p.m.).

Prior to sending this telegram to Barclay, Cecil has asked for the assent of the Finance Corporation to the new wording and would appreciate if possible a reply prior to his departure from Geneva on February 3rd. [Reber.]

  1. The Liberian Government’s telegram of January 16 to its Legation in Paris is largely quoted in telegram No. 27, January 20, 6 p.m., from the Ambassador in France, p. 880