500.A15A4 Steering Committee/516: Telegram (part air)

The Minister in Switzerland (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

42. I had a talk with Aghnides21 yesterday at Montreux. He tells me that Avenol is about to send a telegram to the states members of the Council suggesting the postponement of the meeting of the Bureau of the Disarmament Conference from May 6 to a date to be fixed late in May22 during the sessions of the Council and Assembly, motivating the suggestion by the advantages that the statesmen would have in making one trip to Geneva only during the month.

Aghnides tells me that the full motivation follows:

(1) Politis,23 who will preside at the Bureau, will presumably still be tied up in the Montreux Conference;24 (2) it would be a nuisance to make two trips to Geneva in May; (3) the meeting would very likely [Page 9] conflict with the dates of the Coronation in England; (4) (and Aghnides underscores this as most important) there is the recognition that nothing brilliant will come out of the meeting and hence the desire to pass it off as a routine matter surrounded by other meetings of Council and Assembly committees.

Aghnides says that he has received letters from the French Foreign Office telling him that Delbos and Blum are both apprehensive of the meeting, would give a lot to have it indefinitely postponed but they add since France initiated the calling of the Bureau, France must not be the one to suggest adjournment.

It is expected that the northern states will present a treaty which they have already initialed and accepted for themselves hoping that this treaty will be signed by other states. Incidentally Motta25 tells me that he was requested by the Swedish Minister on behalf of the northern states to join this treaty but he replied that he thought the armament matter had better be left in the first instance to the great states. He considered that the proposal is somewhat “doctrinaire.” I have seen a project of their agreement. It includes (a) provisions for publicity on national defense expenditures; (b) provisions for the control and publicity of arms manufacture and trade “based on Conference Document D 168[”]; (c) setting up permanent organ of control. These provisions follow portions of 168 but contemplate the organ of control as part of the Disarmament Section of the League; (d) general provisions for denunciation and adherence by other states.

Cipher text to Paris and Mr. Davis.

  1. Thanassis Aghnides, Director in the office of the Secretary General of the League of Nations.
  2. The date of the session of the Bureau was set at May 31.
  3. Nicolas Socrate Politis, Greek Minister to France, and delegate to the League of Nations Assembly.
  4. See vol. ii, pp. 615 ff.
  5. Giuseppe Motta, President of the Swiss Confederation, and Minister for Foreign Affairs.