Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Welles)

The Argentine Ambassador10 called to see me this morning.

He told me that he had just received a cabled instruction from Dr. Saavedra Lamas advising him of the Chaco peace move being headed [Page 17] by Argentina and Chile and stating that “inasmuch as this move implies the renewal of the application of the League recommendations, we understand definitely that the collaboration of the United States and of Brazil, non-members of the League, remains intact. For Argentina, the participation of the United States is a moral and material guarantee which could not be substituted. Your Excellency is instructed to sound out the manner of obtaining this collaboration of the United States, which, for the Argentine Government, is indispensable.[”]

I advised the Ambassador fully of the information received through the American Embassy in Buenos Aires from Dr. Saavedra Lamas, notably in the Embassy’s cable No. 15, March 14, 7 p.m. I said that we had deeply appreciated receiving this information from the Argentine Government, but that as yet, as the Ambassador would understand, the Argentine Government had not informed us even in a general way of the exact bases for agreement which had recently been proposed by Argentine and Chile to Paraguay and Bolivia, nor had we received any information from either of the two Governments as to the specific and detailed replies made to the peace proposals by the two belligerents.

I said that we had received information regarding the specific peace proposals from other sources, but that, of course, this Government could not be sure of their accuracy, and that the information we had received of the replies given by Bolivia and Paraguay and of the attitude taken by those two Governments had been highly conflicting.

I said, therefore, that the Ambassador might state to his Foreign Minister that the United States deeply appreciated this friendly message of confidence and of the desire for our cooperation and that the Argentine Government was already well aware of the repeated evidences given by the United States of its desire to cooperate in the furtherance of peace during the past two years, as well as before. I reminded the Ambassador of the efforts which the United States had made together with Argentina and Brazil last summer and of the reply which the United States had made to the League communication of its recommendations. I said, therefore, that our general attitude of a desire to cooperate was thoroughly well recognized. However, I said, before we could definitely commit ourselves to favor effective cooperation of any character at this particular time, it would be necessary for us to be advised in the most detailed manner of the precise proposals which had been made to Paraguay and to Bolivia and likewise to know precisely what replies had been received from these two Governments. Furthermore, before the United States could renew any efforts of mediation it would have to assure itself that the two belligerents were desirous of securing its assistance in such manner. [Page 18] Finally, I said, that while I assumed that the policy of the Brazilian Government would likewise be one of cooperation within the limits of the policy which it had previously determined upon, this Government would naturally want to have the opportunity of discussing with Brazil the issues involved before reaching any final conclusion. I said that this was due to the fact that both Brazil and the United States were non-members of the League and had been participating in the Chaco peace negotiations with Argentina at the time that Argentina had announced at Geneva that mediation negotiations were suspended.

I said to the Ambassador that I considered this message not as being in any way an invitation to the United States, but merely as a confidential and informal sounding of this Government by Argentina as to what the United States would be willing to do were an invitation extended to it by the Republics taking part in the peace negotiations, with the consent of the two belligerents, and provided a peace formula were definitely accepted by Bolivia and Paraguay.

The Ambassador said that he fully understood and appreciated our position. He remarked that no government could have more consistently endeavored to be useful in the cause of peace than the United States had and that, of course, it was impossible for us to agree at this moment to renew our cooperation until and unless we had absolutely complete information as to what was going on.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Felipe A. Espil.