The Secretary of State to President Roosevelt
My Dear Mr. President: The Department is again about to despatch the semi-annual debt notices to the various governments. In the previous notice despatched last December, there was added, with your approval, to the bare statement of indebtedness the following final paragraph:
“I wish to take this occasion to assure you that this Government is fully disposed to discuss, through diplomatic channels, any proposals your Government may desire to put forward in regard to the payment of this indebtedness, and to assure you that such proposals would receive careful consideration with a view to eventual submission to the American Congress.”
The replies received were, with one unimportant exception, evasive. Nevertheless, I believe it will serve to give strength to the reminder if we again bring home to the debtor governments that some action is expected of them and indicate our willingness to receive proposals. Therefore, if you approve, I plan to include in the debt notices a final paragraph slightly varied in form from the one cited above in order to be made somewhat more direct, to wit:
“I wish, in presenting this notice of amounts due under the Agreements signed by the British Government, to reiterate the fact that this Government is fully disposed to discuss, through diplomatic channels, any proposals which your Government may desire to put forward in regard to the payment of this indebtedness, and to assure you that such proposals would receive careful consideration with a view to eventual submission to the American Congress.”
I do not anticipate any different response from that received in December. However, it might be useful to suggest also to certain of the debtor governments that as a sign of their recognition of this debt, and because of its effect on public opinion, they might be willing to consider special payments in the form of provision of certain strategic raw materials, entirely out of the channels of ordinary commerce, to be kept as emergency stocks by this Government, as for example, tin and nickel. The government which would be in the easiest position to furnish such material is the British Government, and I therefore intend to propose verbally to the British Ambassador in presenting him with this debt notice that his Government take under consideration the possibility of making a special limited offer on this point—the place of such payment in the whole ultimate debt settlement to be left open for discussion. I likewise intend to make the same proposal to the Belgian Ambassador in the matter of radium.
Would you kindly advise me as to whether such action meets your approval?