793.94 Conference/201: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation (Davis)

49. Your 23, November 7, 10 p.m. Supplementing conversation between yourself and Wilson, I think it advisable that the Conference should set up a Committee. This would serve to keep a community of purpose among the Nine Power signatories and to keep before the public the obligations and principles of the Nine Power Treaty.

I had felt it preferable that a negotiating or standing committee, although decreed by the Conference, should not be set up as to membership until the Conference should have had a reasonable opportunity to have received a reply from Japan. However, in view of the explanation you made Wilson, the question of the expediency of setting up the committee is left to your discretion.

It seems to me that a small committee would be preferable, both for convenience and because it could represent the most immediately [Page 169]interested powers. We recognize, nevertheless, the difficulties of this matter of membership and while we feel that the United States, Great Britain and France together with perhaps Holland and Belgium might make an acceptable committee, we are somewhat apprehensive of Italian membership both for its effect on public opinion and for practical results. In the event that the United States, Great Britain, France, Belgium and The Netherlands are on the committee, the choice might be justified as representing the original signatories with principal interests in the Far East plus Belgium, the host of the Conference. In this respect, as in other matters, we trust to your discretion since you on the spot are better able to appreciate the difficulties and possibilities of any given course. In general, we feel that the United States should not take the leading role in supporting or opposing the various states for membership on the committee.

When the negotiating committee is set up, it will presumably receive terms of reference from the Conference. We think these terms of reference are important. The negotiating committee should have as broad a mandate as possible while working within the principles and provisions of the Nine Power Treaty.