721.23/2166: Telegram (part air)

The Minister in Switzerland ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State

232. My 230, March 14, 6 p.m.

I have received documents C/Col Per/14/15, being the replies of Peru and Colombia respectively to the communication contained in number 12. Consulate sending documents open mail steamer Europa March 31st.
Two points of special interest arise in the Peruvian communication: (a), A request for an extension of the mandate of the Leticia Commission, (b), A paragraph reads as follows:

“Furthermore in anticipation of this eventuality the Chairman of the Commission for administering Leticia suggests the possibility of handing over this territory to the Colombian authorities. Such an action would destroy the very basis of the Geneva Agreement, since the latter would have had no object if Peru had been disposed to hand over the territory of Leticia to Colombia; it would also be manifestly at variance with the policy consistently pursued by the Peruvian Foreign Office during the conflict and disregard the circumstance which is of fundamental importance, that the Commission received from Peru the Leticia Trapezium it is administering.”

In the Secretariat I am informed that the Peruvian delegate is even stiffer on the question of the return of the territory to Colombia than the note indicates and claims that such action would be unjust to Peru since the latter surrendered the territory to the Commission in the expectation of a settlement of the question and that it would be no settlement of the question as far as Peru was concerned if the Commission merely returned the territory to Colombia.
The Secretariat has also learned from Colombian delegate that his Government will vigorously oppose any extension of the period of the mandate of the Commission.
The Secretariat is planning to call a meeting of the Advisory Committee on April 12. In this connection the Secretariat seems to be ignorant of the course of the negotiations at Rio de Janeiro. Might it not be advisable for Gibson to suggest to the Brazilian Government that they acquaint their representative on the Advisory Committee fully as to the course of these negotiations so that the Committee itself may have the benefit of this information in their discussions.
You may think it advisable to acquaint me with your views as to the three questions raised in document 12 of March 12. I venture to add that if we hold strong views on any of the points mentioned it would be well for me to have them as soon as possible since a good deal of work can be done quietly in anticipation of the meeting.