811.61248A/126a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in the Union of South Africa (Totten)

1. My November 13, 5 p.m. The first offer of the Department of Agriculture to send an expert to Capetown was conditioned upon inspection of vessels at Southampton having proved satisfactory. All plans had been in abeyance until information was received as to when the vessels’ equipment could be seen at Southampton. Repeated requests for this information were in vain, but we now have a report from the American Consul at Southampton to the effect that the vessels are not yet equipped, but we expect an early report which will enable the expert to proceed there for the original purpose.

Meantime, the South African Minister cabled his government on December 5 without qualification that the other expert would be in Capetown at the end of January, although we had tried to make clear that the Capetown visit was contingent upon favorable reports from Southampton. This misunderstanding is partly our fault in that we were perhaps overconfident of the serious intention of the South African Government to push the matter through this season and to supply early last Fall information which would enable the expert to proceed to Southampton. It was never intended that the expert would go to Capetown without such favorable report and we are [Page 876] sorry the Minister was permitted to make his unqualified report of December 5. Please convey the sense of the above to appropriate authorities and say that we hope they will not be embarrassed in Parliament. We are as anxious as they are to settle this matter and are a little surprised that four months have passed without a definite answer to our first request for information which would enable us to go forward. Had arrangements for inspection of vessels been expedited the whole question could have been settled before now. We are disturbed by an apparent inclination on the Minister’s part to feel that officials of this Government have misled him, although we hope that he has not gone so far as to make his reports in that sense. Please impress upon the authorities that our unusual activity in this matter has been at the risk of accusations by other governments of discrimination in favor of South African fruit growers.

We would like to have a short telegraphic report from you regarding reaction to the above and to what was conveyed in my November 13.