721.23/2171a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Brazil (Gibson)

32. We are greatly concerned over the situation between Peru and Colombia. As you know, the League Commission’s mandate expires June 23; Colombia has declined to extend the mandate, and both countries are openly making extensive preparations for possible hostilities. From such information as we have received regarding the discussions at Rio de Janeiro it appears that the Colombian and Peruvian delegations have each made proposals which have been refused by the other side. So far as our information goes Mello Franco does not as yet appear to have made any proposal of his own looking to a settlement. Obviously, it is difficult, if not impossible, in the present state of feeling between Peru and Colombia for either Government to accept any proposal put forward by the other. However, if a reasonable proposal were made by Mello Franco, who is so widely known for his high sense of impartiality and justice, it might conceivably meet with the approval of the two Governments, which could satisfy their public opinion by [Page 333] explaining that while they had invariably declined every proposal made by the opposing side, they did not feel that they could afford to disapprove an equitable solution proposed by such an outstanding personality as Mello Franco, representing the fervent desire and appeal of the American countries for a peaceful solution of this difficulty. We of course assume that Mello Franco has had in mind offering a solution of his own but that he has withheld such action until in his judgment an appropriate time had been reached. It would now seem that further postponement of such action seriously risks the possibility of incidents occurring between Peru and Colombia which would render it much more difficult, if not impossible, to obtain their acceptance of any peaceful solution.

We therefore desire you, provided you perceive no objection, to discuss this situation as set out above confidentially and discreetly with Mello Franco, and to say to him that it would be a matter of deep gratification and relief to your Government to hear that he had proposed on his own initiative to both delegations a fair and just solution giving hope of a peaceful and lasting settlement of this difficult question. In discussing this with Mello Franco you will of course make it abundantly clear to him that the last thing we have in mind is any attempt to interfere with his handling of the situation; and that our views as set out above arise from our anxiety over the situation between the two countries and our desire to be of any assistance we appropriately can to him in his work for a peaceful settlement.