500.C1112/99: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State

64. 1. It is not possible to give conclusive answers to the questions respecting the Raw Materials Committee set forth in Department’s telegram 23, February 4, 7 p.m., and 160, December 14 [15], 5 p.m.17

The Secretariat is unable to give undertakings respecting any League activities and Secretariat forecasts of happenings possess only relative value. Much of the information I reported in previous telegrams on the political aspects of the matter is unknown to Stoppani and as it was given me in confidence I did not discuss it with him. I feel that a more proximate appraisal of these questions can be obtained only in the interested capitals.

The meeting is one of experts acting in their individual capacities and its terms of reference confine it to a technical inquiry of the problem. The circumstance of the alleged British, German and Polish attitudes which I have reported in my telegrams being widely discussed here has, however, evoked speculations regarding national motives lying behind this endeavor and has inspired on the part of certain representatives here expressions of misgivings as to the advisability of participating. This has led to a stressing in the press [Page 809] of the alleged political aspects of the question. Whether this will continue during the progress of the meetings it is impossible to say. In respect of the meeting itself it is of course possible that Poland for example may in some manner raise the “colonial issue”. Undoubtedly in addition to the French and the British members the majority of the Committee would object to such a discussion and the Chairman under the Committee’s terms of reference should presumably pronounce it as not in order.

It is now understood here that neither Germany nor Italy will participate.

2. Stoppani tells me that he believes the first session of the Committee will last about a week. He envisages it as taking the form of a general discussion in which the lines of the inquiry will be laid down and perhaps subcommittees established to prepare reports for a second and possibly final meeting to be held in May. The Secretariat is not preparing extensive material and will not do so except as responsive to the directives which it is expected the first meeting will afford.

Department’s telegram 162, December 30, 5 p.m.18 Stoppani has made efforts to have the Economic Committee meet concurrently with the first session of the Raw Materials Committee. Although the possibilities of this are being explored it will probably not be feasible. If not, it is hoped that the Economic and the Raw Materials Committees may both meet in May.