Memorandum by Mr. John R. Minter of the Division of Western European Affairs

The Secretary was visited by Mr. William S. Culbertson who has been retained to represent the South African Reciprocity Committee, a group of exporters interested in developing trade with South Africa. Its present concern is the boycott in South Africa which it hoped to stamp out with official aid. The Secretary referred Mr. Culbertson to Mr. Dunn14 who asked me to be present. It was explained to Mr. Culbertson that we had on September 14 given the South African Minister encouraging information regarding the plans of the Department of Agriculture ultimately to admit South African fruits. We asked the South African Government for certain non-complicated information which had not yet been received. This information was essential to any further step by the United States Department of Agriculture. Mr. Culbertson said he realized we had done all we could do but suggested that perhaps we may ask our own Minister to expedite. I said that we had just yesterday considered sending Mr. Totten a telegram if there were no developments this week.

After Mr. Culbertson’s departure Mr. Dunn suggested that I see the Legation’s Secretary, Mr. Webster, and tell him of our concern. I accordingly arranged to have lunch with him and said the following:

The Secretary had been visited by a deputation representing a large group of exporters. These had been confidentially informed of encouraging developments, but wondered why the South African [Page 871] Government had taken no steps to make known to the fruit farmers the cooperative spirit of this Government. The Department was surprised that the South Africans after thirty days had not been able to give us the simple information necessary for the next step. The Department thought that since we had made such a great effort all-round to accommodate the South Africans in this matter it behooved the South African Government to act as quickly as possible to restore our good name among the farmers there. This could best be done by lending its own cooperation to our effort and to dissemination there of the truth regarding the cooperation of this Government. Mr. Webster said he would convey these thoughts to the Minister. I closed by saying that failing to receive an early reply from South Africa we may find it necessary to enlist the aid of our own Minister in securing the desired information.

Mr. Webster then said that the Minister had received a telegram but that it did not contain the information we wanted. The Government had not obtained the names of the vessels which would be used for the transport of grapes, and it had become confused by a rumor in South Africa that our Department of Agriculture was planning to send its men at the height of the fruit season in February rather than at once as promised. I asked him whether his Government was accustomed to accepting rumors in preference to direct commitments from another Government. I suggested that they inform Pretoria at once that there is no truth in the rumor and that the experts are prepared to proceed on the first available steamer after obtaining knowledge that their visits would be welcome. He said that the Minister was writing Mr. Sayre a letter. I said that if the letter contained no information there was hardly any use to send it.

Mr. Webster called later in the day to make an appointment with Mr. Sayre for the Minister. Informed of Mr. Sayre’s absence a tentative appointment for three o’clock, October 16, was made with the Secretary.15

  1. James Clement Dunn, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State and Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs.
  2. No memorandum of a conversation of that date found in Department files.