882.635 Neep/72: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the Netherlands (Benton)

35. For the Minister’s attention upon his return. Your despatch 298, April 28.

With reference to the share of so-called neutral capital in the proposed concession, the Department is somewhat disturbed at the statements made by van Nierop and Bouillant-Linet in their recent conversations with you and their apparent misconception of this Government’s position with regard to the Neep proposals. We, of [Page 796]course, are sure that you appreciate that the interest of the United States Government is strictly limited to the use of its good offices in bringing together responsible American and foreign concerns who may desire to participate in the enterprise. The sole purpose of such assistance, undertaken at the express request of President Barclay, is to facilitate the efforts of the Liberian Government to come to its own decision regarding the development of its iron ore resources to the best possible advantage. While this Government is naturally interested in extending any assistance which may contribute to the progress and welfare of Liberia, it cannot and does not assume to influence the proportion of American or foreign capital to be invested in any such venture.
As to van Nierop’s intended approach to American capital, the United States Steel Corporation is obviously not the only American concern which might be interested in an opportunity to participate in an iron ore concession in Liberia. Should such an opportunity ultimately develop, the Department would not of course confine its information on the subject to a single concern, but in accordance with its usual policy would make the information available to whatever interests seemed likely to be attracted to the undertaking.
We feel that the interest of our Government in this matter, limited solely to the use of good offices in bringing together responsible American and foreign concerns who might be interested in the enterprise, undertaken at the request of the Liberian Government, has now been adequately accomplished for the time being. In view of our present position as outlined above, it is therefore believed that it would perhaps be well not to pursue this matter further at this time at The Hague. If you are approached again in any way you may take the occasion to acquaint any inquirer with the contents of paragraphs 1 and 2 in this instruction.