The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Bingham ) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 18—11:15 a.m.]
153. The note quoted in the Department’s instruction 1591 February 8, 1937, was textually transmitted to Foreign Office on February 18.
In a conversation yesterday at his request with an official of the Foreign Office it was stated that in the British opinion the subject matter of the Department’s note could be more conveniently treated if it were presented orally or in an informal communication. If the British must reply to the signed note as it stands, it was stated that the reply must be adverse to the contentions of the United States and that it would be difficult to avoid “asperities.”
In the British view, the whole question resolves itself to whether or not His Majesty is fulfilling international British obligations in Western Samoa. If these obligations are not being fulfilled by His Majesty’s Government in New Zealand, it is immaterial whether the New Zealand action is based or not upon advice from law officers of the Crown in London. The point was made and somewhat insisted upon that action in this matter has been entirely that of New Zealand without pressure from London which has merely offered legal advice upon request of the New Zealand Government.
The Foreign Office gave no indication of what the reply would be if the communication were made in an informal manner. It is quite [Page 213] clear however that they regard the formal note as unjustifiably sharp and that they desire it withdrawn. Please instruct.