811.0141 Phoenix Group/23½
The British Chargé ( Mallet ) to the Secretary of State
Sir: With reference to the note which you were so good as to address to Sir Ronald Lindsay on the 9th August last, I have the honour to inform you, on the instructions of His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom deeply appreciate the offer of the United States Government to discuss with them the question of conflicting claims to ownership of various islands in the Pacific, and that they are ready to enter upon such discussions.
In view, however, of the facts that not only were the Phoenix Group of islands incorporated in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony by Orders-in-Council of the 18th March, 1937, but that His Majesty’s Government were already in effective possession of Canton and Hull Islands before the receipt of the proposal conveyed in your note under reference, they can only regard the Group as definitely British territory, and they would accordingly be unable, in participating in the discussions referred to above, to include in them the question of the islands of that Group.
Subject to this reservation, His Majesty’s Government readily agree that, pending the outcome of such discussions as have been suggested, neither Government should take any action which would render adjustments of any conflicting claims more difficult.
I have [etc.]