611.5531/740: Telegram

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

45. The Department’s telegram No. 18, April 1, 5 p.m. Culbertson accompanied by Tuck and Miss Willis8 had a conversation with Suetens and de Fontaine9 this morning on the subject of the Belgian counter draft of the general provision, transmitted under cover of despatch No. 207 of April 5.10

The first five articles of the Belgian text were discussed and Suetens explained the reason for the proposed modifications. Culbertson outlined the Department’s policy in regard to the various principles involved in the articles in question and expressed his personal opinion with regard to the Department’s probable attitude toward the specific points under discussion.

The greatest obstacles encountered to date have been in connection with articles I and II and V. Among the principal points discussed were: (1) the probable objections to the expression “the products originating in and coming from”; (2) the inadequacy of the proposed Belgian substitution in article I which guarantees only most-favored-nation treatment and does not bind all charges imposed in connection with importation; (3) the necessity of retaining the principles embodied in article V.

After hearing Culbertson’s explanation of our viewpoint the Belgians were prepared to some extent to modify their proposals provided an acceptable formula could be found. Culbertson replied stressing the fact that he had no power to negotiate but that he was quite willing to continue on Thursday and Friday a minute article by article consideration of the text in order to indicate to them (in so far as he could personally) the objections which would probably be raised in Washington.

Culbertson plans to leave for Paris Saturday morning April 30 and to sail May 5. It would be helpful if any instructions to be used by him here could reach Brussels not later than Thursday night.

  1. Frances Elizabeth Willis, Second Secretary of Embassy in Belgium.
  2. Jean de Fontaine of the Belgian Foreign Office.
  3. Not printed.