724.34119/13: Telegram

The Ambassador in Argentina (Weddell) to the Secretary of State

113. From Gibson. First business meeting of Peace Conference this morning may be summarized as follows:

Agreed that in the absence of chairman he be temporarily replaced by heads of nonbelligerent delegations in alphabetical order (beginning with Brazil).
Podestá Costa58 formally chosen as Secretary General.
Small committee appointed to draft rules of procedure. It was agreed that all delegations, including the parties in conflict, should attend plenary sessions whereas informal meetings may be called without them or with only one of them present.
Chairman laid it down that instead of dividing the work among committees, all questions should be discussed by the full Conference. Suggestion that the first stages of various subjects at least should be dealt with by separate committees was disregarded but experience will probably prove the necessity for some more business-like arrangement.
Agreed that a press communiqué should be issued after each meeting, delegations undertaking to make no communications to the press.
The chairman devoted considerable time to thanking the Foreign Ministers, most of whom are leaving tomorrow, for their presence here and expressing his earnest hope for their return. In conclusion, while expressing his hope that they would all be here for the signature of the final peace treaty, he charged me to extend an invitation to you in the same sense.
It was agreed there should be plenary sessions three times a week, the next to be Thursday afternoon at 3 o’clock.
The Secretary General read a telegram from the Chairman of the Neutral Military Commission reporting satisfactory progress and good understanding inside the group and with the high commands of both armies.
It was decided the chairman should send a telegram to the Chairman of the Neutral Military Commission expressing the commendation of the Peace Conference for the work thus far achieved by the Commission.
Chairman asked authority to send a telegram to the Secretary General of the League of Nations informing him of the opening of the Peace Conference. This led to some difficulty as the head of the Paraguayan delegation objected with some heat that his country had withdrawn from the League of Nations, did not recognize any relation between the League proposals and the work now undertaken, and wished to make it very clear that Paraguay disassociated itself from any such communication. The Chairman handled the matter rather deftly and the Paraguayan Minister was enabled to beat a graceful retreat after the Conference accepted his suggestion of sending a similar telegram to the Pan American Union. He nevertheless maintained his general reservation and the final decision was that the chairman should send a telegram emanating from the representatives of states members of the League. [Gibson.]

  1. Luis A. Podestá Costa, Argentine delegate.