811.0141 Phoenix Group/9
The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Lindsay)
Excellency: The receipt is acknowledged of your two notes, dated respectively July 16, 1937, and July 22, 1937, with regard to Canton Island, and other neighboring islands in the Pacific.
In these notes you pointed out that Canton Island and the other islands in the Phoenix Group were incorporated in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony by an Order-in-Council, dated March 18, 1937, and that the British Government accordingly desired to have removed an American flag painted on the stainless steel, and other emblems left at Canton Island by the U. S. S. Avocet, in May 1937.
In the view of the American Government, the sovereignty over the Island of Canton and certain other islands in the Pacific is the subject of conflicting claims. Pending the final settlement of title by mutual agreement between the two Governments, therefore, the American Government cannot accept as binding upon it the British Order-in-Council of March 18, 1937.
The American Government is, however, prepared to discuss with the British Government the question of the sovereignty of such Islands as are claimed by both, on the understanding that pending the outcome of such conversations neither Government should undertake, or cite, any action from this point forward,—such as the establishment of settlers on the Islands,—which would render adjustment of the conflicting claims more difficult.