811.24 Raw Materials/133: Telegram

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

29. Your 64, May 13, 5 p.m. The Department is pleased to learn of the Belgian Government’s acceptance in principle of the proposed exchange.

With respect to tin it is suggested that you keep in touch with the American Embassy in London since the British Government also has accepted the proposal in principle and is giving consideration to supplying tin and rubber in exchange for American cotton. The Embassy at London is being requested to keep you informed of developments there affecting tin. It is probable that we would be prepared to accept as much tin as the Belgian Government might be able to supply.

The following comments can be offered at this time with respect to the other raw materials mentioned by the Belgian Government. This Government would not be prepared at present to discuss the acquisition of manganese although it might be given consideration at some later time when the political situation surrounding consideration of bills authorizing the purchase of strategic materials may be clarified. Additional quantities of radium would be of value from the standpoint of health rather than strategic considerations, and this Government probably would consider the acquisition of as much as 50 grams immediately or more over a period of time. Cobalt is ordinarily not considered a strategic material but this Government might be willing to accept up to one million pounds of cobalt metal as a war reserve if the Belgian Government were willing to accept cotton and wheat that could not be covered by more important materials which they can supply. This Government would not be interested in acquiring stocks of bort.

This Government would not be interested in supplying gasoline to the Congo in connection with the proposed exchanges. You will of course emphasize that American products will be made available for exchange only if we have adequate assurances that they will be held off commercial markets, as reserves for war emergencies.

The Department, of course, is unable to forecast what sort of neutrality legislation will be adopted by the Congress and what effect [Page 444] it will have on the transportation of food supplies to Europe in the event of war. For your information, however, one of the bills under consideration, the Pittman Neutrality Bill,25 includes a provision that none of the restrictions established by the Bill shall “prohibit the transportation by vessels under charter or other direction and control of the Red Cross, proceeding under safe conduct granted by states engaged in armed conflict, of officers and Bed Cross personnel, medical personnel and medical supplies, food and clothing, for the relief of human suffering.”

  1. Congressional Record, vol. 84, pt 3, p. 2923.