811.24 Raw Materials/234

The Chargé in Belgium (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

No. 389

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s strictly confidential despatch No. 386, of July 10, 1939,30 concerning the conversation which the Ambassador had on July 7, 1939, with the Prime Minister and to report that this morning the Embassy has received a note dated July 10, 1939, a copy and translation of which are enclosed,31 from the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Commerce.

In the second paragraph of this note it is stated that

“As I have had the honor to explain, this operation (of exchange) offers no practical interest for Belgium except in so far as the latter could obtain guarantees concerning the delivery and transportation of merchandise which it might acquire, in the case of an international conflict in which it (Belgium) would not be involved.”

In the Embassy’s telegram No. 77 of June 17, 1939, 12 noon, and the above-mentioned despatch the existence of this attitude on the part of the Belgian Government was commented on, and in this note it is officially confirmed.

The Belgian Government expresses its willingness to agree to an immediate exchange of tin for wheat, upon the definitive understanding that Belgium can count on the moral support of the United States and the latter’s willingness to use its good offices with a view to assuring the desired transportation to Belgium in the event of an international conflict. The full meaning of the Belgian note in this connection can be appreciated only when read in conjunction with the memorandum of the Ambassador’s conversation of July 7, 1939, with the Prime Minister.

Having set forth this condition, the Prime Minister in his note stated that the Belgian Government is now ready to indicate its agreement to an exchange of tin for wheat. The amounts to be exchanged are not stipulated in the note, but Mr. Le Ghait, Mr. Pierlot’s Chef de Cabinet, telephoned to a member of the Embassy staff and stated that it was hoped to be able to determine the amounts within the next few days, so that the Embassy would be in possession of this information before the arrival of the Ambassador in the United States. A memorandum of this telephone conversation is likewise enclosed.31

[Page 452]

The substance of the note from the Foreign Office is not being telegraphed to the Department, as it is believed that without the background information contained in the memorandum of the conversation of July 7, 1939, between the Prime Minister and the Ambassador, the full import of the note would be lost. The Ambassador is sailing tomorrow, July 12, 1939, for the United States on the Queen Mary and is taking with him a copy of his despatch No. 386 of July 10, 1939, with the memorandum. A copy of this despatch, No. 389 of July 11, 1939, with its enclosures is being sent to him by special messenger. The aforementioned two despatches are being forwarded in the regular manner to the Department in the pouch which leaves the Embassy tomorrow, to go forward by the S. S. Manhattan, which is not scheduled to arrive in New York until July 20, 1939, or several days after the arrival of the Ambassador.

The information promised by the Foreign Office in regard to the amount of tin the Belgian Government is prepared to exchange for wheat will, if received, be telegraphed to the Department.

Respectfully yours,

Orme Wilson
  1. See footnote 27, p. 447.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.