721.23/2177: Telegram

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

57. Department’s 32, April 4, 4[5] p.m. I saw Mello Franco this evening and communicated to him substance of your message which he understood clearly and of which he was deeply appreciative.

When I arrived Mello Franco was finishing a long conference with the chief Peruvian delegate who came out with him and remarked cheerfully that he had news from Washington. After he had gone Mello Franco said Maúrtua had told him that a telegram from the Peruvian Ambassador in Washington gave him to understand that the Department supported the Peruvian stand in regard to the prolongation of the mandate. Mello Franco did not seem to take this too seriously.

Mello Franco was troubled by perplexity as to which way to move and showed clearly that he has no new solution of his own that he can bring forward at this time. He said very confidentially that he felt the solution indicated in the last paragraph of my 56, April 5, 2 p.m. would be a solution and would assure peace. He is obviously perplexed as to how this solution can be suggested as the two junior delegates hardly dare acknowledge to their chiefs that they have talked matters over on their own initiative.

Mello Franco raised the question whether as being a perfectly excellent solution, you would feel disposed to have a talk with the Peruvian Ambassador and ask him as of your own motion why the whole matter could not be simplified by Perú taking the initiative in expressing regrets for the incidents of September 1st (which she has maintained were caused by rebellious frontiersmen) and further-more [Page 337] for the burning of the Colombian Legation in [Lima].7 He felt that the whole situation would be considerably clarified if Perú instead of attacking the validity of the Salomon–Lozano Treaty were in its communication to recognize its legal validity but stress the practical difficulties of its application in view of the requirements that Colombia turn over territory belonging to Ecuador. Such a spontaneous expression on the part of Perú might render it easier for Colombia to accept a direct settlement which might either obviate or facilitate arbitration of the whole difficulty.

He particularly stressed the fact that if you decide to broach this idea it should be as one which had occurred to you without reference to any suggestions from Rio de Janeiro.

I told Mello Franco that I had no idea whether you would be disposed to entertain this idea and left it at that. It seems clear to me that he felt there was greater hope of the matter being entertained sympathetically by both sides if the suggestion should come from you in informal conversation.

I should be glad of any views you may care to give me for my guidance in further conversations with Mello Franco.