500.C1199/241: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State

374. 1. The Argentine Foreign Minister26 asked me to call on him at an early hour this morning. He first showed me a series of telegrams from Espil27 conveying the substance of conversations with you. I had no opportunity to examine these messages with care. They were shown to me hurriedly certain passages being pointed out. The [Page 463] gist of them appeared to be, however, that you felt that a useful opportunity was presented to Saavedra Lamas as President of the Assembly to take some action here which might increase internationally the importance of the effect of American economic policy. However, this must now be considered in the light of the recent developments in financial stabilization in which we had participated.

He tentatively envisaged carrying out your wish by (a) emphasizing your own pertinent public statements either by indorsing direct quotations or by paralleling them in his own language, (b) by indorsing the report of the Economic Committee perhaps emphasizing certain elements most acceptable to the United States following the same course with the report of the Second Committee if it turns out to be favorable; (c) by stressing the importance of the tripartite announcement respecting stability.

2. I had previously received intimations from members of his delegation that Saavedra Lamas wished to discuss with me American economic and financial policy. I prepared in advance a list of citations of what seemed to me to be the most pertinent passages in your speech of April 30.28 I had also a copy of the press report of the joint statement of the governments of September 26.

3. Saavedra Lamas stated that he took as a point of departure for our possible present position the four following points which had emerged in various forms at the Montevideo Conference of 1933.29

The advocacy of bilateral commercial agreements,
The reconvening of the London Monetary and Economic Conference,30
The setting up of a world bureau to deal with economic questions,
The interpretation of the most-favored-nation clause in its relationship to regional agreements.

Although in respect of the foregoing Saavedra Lamas made reference to specific statements made at Montevideo or to action taken by the Conference, my unfamiliarity with the details of the proceedings at Montevideo made it difficult for me clearly to understand the bearing of all the references. If the general language which Saavedra Lamas [used] in discussing these points which I have reflected above is not sufficient for their identification, I can seek further clarification.

He specifically inquired which among the foregoing could be regarded as representing current American policy. He particularly requested a statement of our current commercial policy in relation to point (d) above.

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He courteously emphasized in respect of these inquiries that he was not asking for a confidential expose of our policy but in the light of your desires as he understood them he wished to have your practical suggestions as to accomplishment.

4. I told him that obviously many developments had taken place since 1933 of which the recent announcement respecting currencies could be considered as a most important factor.

I then stated in general terms my own view that action taken in Geneva as a part of League procedures must be regarded in a special light and that in order to render any action acceptable the position of a given question before the League must be taken into full consideration.

As a case in point I made mention of the references in the Economic Committee’s report to the employment of the general conference method at this time, in which Committee an Argentine national had participated and which had been submitted to the Council during a meeting at which he was present, which report was now before the Assembly. He said that this had escaped him and that he had not yet studied the Economic Committee’s report.

5. He expressed full agreement with what I said. His specific question taking all of the foregoing matters into consideration was “what he could best do now and in Geneva to carry out your desires”. He stated that as to method he saw two possible steps, (a) he could take action in the Second Committee leading to the formulation of a resolution which would meet the ends desired; (b) he could then indorse such a resolution in his final speech before the Assembly with such additional statements as might be pertinent.

The Second Committee will probably begin the discussion of economic questions on Friday. He believes that the Assembly will close about October 9 or 10 which would be the occasion for his final speech.

6. He also has very much in mind the linking up of any action he might take here with action contemplated at the forthcoming Buenos Aires Conference31 and requested that I should convey this thought to you.

7. I asked him specifically whether he had in mind that any statements he would make would be given as an expression of his own views or whether he contemplated in any way being a spokesman for Washington. He said that he did not contemplate giving the aspect of speaking for Washington except to the extent of such direct quotations as he might make of American Government official statements.

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8. He told me that Eden32 had urged him to take the opportunity offered him to emphasize the significance of the recent monetary developments. I inquired if Eden had made any disclosure of British policy or had made any specific statements of proposals. He replied that Eden had not gone beyond the general suggestion mentioned above.

9. He stated that he perceived the dangers in Geneva of a political motivation being attributed to elements in any statements he might make. He cited as an example the phrase “the three democracies” which the French had employed concerning the stabilization arrangement. He mentioned Morrison’s remark which I reported in paragraph 2 of my 362, September 26, 9 p.m., and stated that he understood that Eden had been saying something of the same order. He said that he felt that he must be most guarded in his language.

10. He impressed upon me his view of the confidential nature of any exchanges he might have with you concerning action here. He asked me that I convey all his messages to you personally. He then asked that I request of you not to discuss these questions with any member of the Argentine Embassy at Washington except Espil. I told him that I would convey this message precisely as he had worded it.

11. He said that Espil was shortly leaving Washington to confer with him in Europe concerning the Buenos Aires Conference and that he hoped that Espil would be able to convey to him your most recent views or desires respecting that conference. Espil would not reach Europe, however, until after the close of the Assembly and thus he could not be employed as a medium of communication on any aspect of immediate League action.

12. At the conclusion of our conversation, considering the turn it had taken, I felt that I could well hand him the material that I described under paragraph 2 above. I made clear to him, however, that the selections were entirely my own which I had prepared solely as a matter of convenience, and that they should in no way be considered as necessarily fully representing the current views of Washington or as being exclusive of other points.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Carols Saavedra Lamas, President of the League of Nations Assembly, seventeenth session.
  3. Felipe A. Espil, Argentine Ambassador in the United States.
  4. “American Foreign Trade Policies,” Department of State Commercial Policy Series No. 24.
  5. Seventh International Conference of American States, Montevideo, December 3–26, 1933; see Foreign Relations, 1933, vol. iv, pp. 1 ff.
  6. Held June 12–July 27, 1933; see ibid., vol. i, pp. 452 ff.
  7. Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, Buenos Aires, December 1–23, 1936; see vol. v, pp. 3 ff.
  8. Anthony Eden, British representative to the League of Nations.