500.A15A4 Steering Committee/512: Telegram

The Chairman of the American Delegation ( Davis ) to the Secretary of State

At luncheon at the French Embassy a few days ago I asked Corbin20 why France wanted a Bureau meeting of the Disarmament Conference. He stated that the primary purpose was to keep alive the question of disarmament and it had been hoped that by May the situation might have reached a stage where Germany would be prepared to begin disarmament negotiations in which case it would be helpful to have the meeting of the Bureau. Developments however not having been as rapid as was hoped for he did not know just what the plans of his Government were as to the forthcoming meeting but he told me that as soon as he could find out what the French plans were he would let me know.

Last night the French Embassy informed us that the British had approached them with regard to a postponement of the Bureau meeting and had given the impression that I had initiated the request for adjournment. The French were informed of the fact, namely, that I had suggested nothing of the kind but had told the British that if they and the French wished to adjourn the meeting I saw no objections and also perhaps advantages particularly if there are no prospects of any positive achievement now.

The French said the British had asked them to find out just what their Government thought about postponement and what their plans were. Corbin had accordingly requested the French Foreign Office for this information. He was informed that detailed information [Page 8] would be given to him later for transmission to the British but that Massigli had said that in so far as the United States was concerned this information would in due course be communicated to our Embassy in Paris which could make such disposition of it as it saw fit. The French Embassy here was somewhat perplexed by this because, as they stated, they had assumed that since I was Chairman of the American delegation to the Disarmament Conference information would be supplied directly to me as had always heretofore been done.

The French Embassy wished to know whether I would go to Geneva or not and it was pointed out to them that it was difficult to make a decision with regard to my plans without full information as to what is to be done and as to the possibilities of accomplishment, and until consultation with you; and that I would therefore be pleased to get any information they could give me which would help me in making my plans.

In these circumstances I feel it would be unwise as yet to make any public announcement of our plans for the Bureau because if there should be an announcement now that I am definitely not going to the Bureau it might be used to place on us the responsibility for the adjournment and the delay in disarmament. Furthermore, within the last day or two there have been increasing indications of a desire and a pressure for a disarmament move.

I will cable you more fully later on.

  1. Charles Corbin, French Ambassador to the United Kingdom.