The Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray) to the Minister of Liberia (Walton)
Dear Mr. Walton: We have been interested in the contents of the Legation’s despatch No. 181 and its enclosures,25 in which it is shown that the combined participation of the Neep interests and the Amsterdamsche Bank in the proposed iron ore concession in Liberia is expected by the Bank to amount to at least 51 percent of the total capital employed in the projected undertaking. The Legation’s other [Page 797]despatches and telegrams have kept us well informed on the same general subject and we appreciate the work which Mr. Wharton has done in this connection during your absence.
There is, however, one small matter which troubles us somewhat and which I venture to bring to your attention. In President Barclay’s letter of March 31, 193826 to Mr. Wharton, he refers to a question put to the Amsterdamsche Bank regarding the opportunity which might be made for American investors to acquire a share in the enterprise. The President then states that he would appreciate being informed if the Bank’s answer to this question “is satisfactory to the American State Department”. You will, I am sure, readily perceive that the wording of this request might prove objectionable from our point of view.
I know you appreciate that our interest in the Neep proposals is strictly limited to the use of our 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 of course 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 advantage. Naturally the Department cannot and does not assume to influence the proportion of American or foreign capital to be invested in any such venture, and any question, therefore, as to the extent of the opportunity for American participation in the concession could not be a subject to be passed upon by this Government.
When you have an opportunity to do so, I should appreciate your bringing the matter informally to the attention of President Barclay and making clear our position with regard to the Neep proposals as set forth above.