Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Sayre)13

I had asked the South African Minister to come and meet Mr. Strong to hear first hand what the Department of Agriculture is prepared to do toward meeting South African wishes regarding the importation of grapes.

After the Minister had reiterated the South African complaint and expressed his fears of the outcome I asked Mr. Strong to take the floor.

Mr. Strong repeated what he had said to me on September 12 regarding the willingness of this Department to send experts to England to inspect refrigerating facilities of certain vessels and to Capetown to observe the operation of the precooling plant. The Minister was very pleased and expressed a desire to send a cablegram at once. He hoped that the inspections would not take long because the fruit growers must know in time to order their wooden containers from northern countries. Mr. Strong said that depending upon availability of vessels for inspection he thought it might take about two months (Mr. Strong later agreed in talking to us privately that, of course, vessels could be approved as inspected and an announcement could be made on the basis of say two or three vessels of the nine which it is understood are used in that fruit trade. Thus some time would be saved.) The Minister was anxious to make an early announcement, chiefly because of his personal concern over the effect it would have upon mitigating the boycott movement. Failing early results from the proposed journeys which might have such effect, the Minister thought that some public announcement in South Africa of our present plans would have a happy effect. Mr. Strong objected to any publicity right now for reasons which were obvious to us all. He thought it would be better to make a complete announcement after every angle of the [Page 870] situation had been explored and we were definitely prepared from the date of the announcement to admit grapes under the conditions described. The Minister was not certain that he could agree to withhold from the public every iota of information. He said that he would prepare a cable giving first the facts for the information of his government and secondly a suggestion as to a public announcement. He described a draft telegram to be reviewed by ourselves, and we agreed to do so.

Mr. Strong stated that he was ready to send his men at once. The refrigeration expert would go to England as soon as he was informed where and when the ships would be available. The entomologist would go to Capetown as soon as he was informed whether such a visit would be welcome.

F[rancis] B. S[ayre]
  1. Memorandum of a meeting in the Office of Assistant Secretary Sayre regarding South African fruits. Present besides Mr. Sayre were the following: the South African Minister; the First Secretary of the South African Legation; Mr. Lee A. Strong, Chief, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, Department of Agriculture; and Mr. John R. Minter of the Division of Western European Affairs.