500.A15A4 General Committee/1031: Telegram

The American Adviser ( Mayer ) to the Secretary of State

962. Department’s telegram 460, December 17, 5 p.m.,7 and my letter to Moffat No. 63, December 19, 1934.8

Aghnides tells me that in a conversation on Saturday Simon9 brought up the matter of the resumption of committee work questioning the desirability of settling now on a definite date since Flandin10 and Laval11 might well be in London at that very time discussing general European questions with especial reference to disarmament; that it might not be advisable in these circumstances to have the committees meeting simultaneously in Geneva. Sir John therefore suggested that Aghnides should consult with other delegations and think over the matter before determining on a definite date.

Aghnides said that he finds the French agreeable to meetings on the 4th or 5th February without showing any particular enthusiasm but that the Italians feel some postponement is preferable. He asked our point of view. I told him that I should prefer to consult with Department before replying but that in my opinion we want to see the work definitely resumed at an early date.

The main argument for deferring the settling of the date for resumption of committee work appears the same as that advanced in the past, namely, that simultaneous work here at Geneva might interfere with negotiations outside on general political agreement. It is difficult for us to see how technical work on a limited convention, work which can be kept strictly within these limits and which will require considerable time, could constitute an obstacle to general political discussions elsewhere. Furthermore we consider that there is much technical work to be done in committee here on an agreement on manufacture of and trade in arms which must be done in any event. This work while devoted at present to a treaty of limited objectives such as we have proposed could be adapted later if necessary to the requirements of a general disarmament convention.

Frankly, we are inclined to believe that an effort to postpone a resumption of the committee work here is a red herring across the trail. In all the circumstances we believe that we should adopt an unequivocal attitude and press for the prompt resumption of committee [Page 3] work early in February and that I should be authorized so to tell Aghnides. At the same time I might say to Aghnides that we are of course most interested in the success of any negotiations on the more comprehensive plan and while desiring to go ahead with the practical work decided on November 20th we hoped that the Conference would soon be able to consider again the fundamentals of disarmament.

If, after taking this position, the British or others can show us any special circumstances against going forward at this time with the work decided upon by the Bureau on November 20th we might consider the matter again. Meanwhile we feel that we should take a strong line as indicated above.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. i, p. 206.
  2. Letter to J. Pierrepont Moffat, Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs; not found in Department files.
  3. Sir John Simon, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Pierre Etienne Flandin, Premier of France.
  5. Pierre Laval, French Minister for Foreign Affairs.