600.0031 World Program/102

The Ambassador in Belgium ( Morris ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1227–A

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegram No. 24 of April 15, 6 p.m., 1937,17 summarizing a conversation which I had with the Belgian Prime Minister, Mr. van Zeeland, on that day, and to submit herewith a few additional observations in connection with my call.

Upon greeting the Prime Minister, I offered him, in accordance [Page 835] with telegraphic instruction No. 15 of April 13, 1937, 7 p.m.,18 your personal congratulations upon the results of his recent election and also informed him that I had reason to feel sure you were awaiting with interest any report that I might submit with regard to his investigation concerning the possibilities of reducing obstacles to international commerce. The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation of your message and asked that I send you his thanks which he hopes to convey to you himself in June.

Because of the fact that he had just finished an exacting election campaign, I felt it advisable to make my interview as direct and brief as possible. I therefore limited myself to a few definite questions, the answers to which were succinctly stated in my telegram under reference.

Of course his “investigation” will necessarily include discussions with high officials and technical advisors in key countries, and it is because of this fact that I immediately got the impression he wished to see you and the President personally before reaching any final decision. He emphasized strongly and repeatedly that unless the several countries interested hold the same opinions on the general subject matter and the chances for a successful conference are good, he will not advise calling one. Furthermore, every particular point he brings up for discussion or otherwise and on which there is not general agreement, he will not only not press but quietly drop.

Referring especially to currency stabilization, he stressed that he would by no means exclude it, but on the other hand he was equally insistent that he would not necessarily include it; also that he would treat it like any other question and drop it unless there was evidence of possible accord. In other words, the scope of his recommendations would depend entirely upon the results of his “investigation” by which I gathered that if he felt there was insufficient agreement, he would then advise against any conference.

In conclusion, it may be mentioned that Mr. van Zeeland plans to call upon experts without limitation as to their nationality and that, according to a communiqué issued by the Agence Belga (Brussels semi-official news agency) subsequent to my call, Mr. Maurice Frère, a Belgian who was formerly the Counselor of the National Bank of Austria, has been designated by Mr. van Zeeland to conduct the preliminary investigations. The communiqué adds that Mr. Frère has already been to London where he exchanged views with Sir Frederick Leith-Ross and representatives of the Foreign Office, the Treasury and the Board of Trade, and that he would begin similar consultations in Paris on April 19, 1937.

Respectfully yours,

Dave H. Morris
  1. Ante, p. 674.
  2. Not printed.