740.00112 European War 1939/792

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The British Ambassador called to see me this afternoon. I told the Ambassador that there had been brought to my attention certain complaints on the part of the governments of the other American republics that ships plying from one American port to another in the Western Hemisphere, when they stopped at the British possessions of Barbados and Trinidad, had been unduly detained on the ground that the British authorities in those parts desired to assure themselves that no shipments were being made from one American republic to another involving firms or individuals on the British black list. I said that it had also come to my attention that German ships might have been attacked and sunk within the restricted zone proclaimed in the Declaration of Panama. I said to the Ambassador that I was making no representations in the matter and that I would request him to regard this part of our conversation as strictly informal and unofficial, but that I did want to point out that if it was generally understood on the Western Hemisphere that Great Britain had been responsible for a disregard of the zone prescribed in the Declaration of Panama and was undertaking to interfere with ordinary commercial or maritime communications between one American republic and another, I was very confident that there would be a general outburst antagonistic to Great Britain throughout the continent. I said that I was making these observations in a preliminary fashion, and that I had requested an immediate report with regard to the allegations as to the interference with shipments from one American republic to another. I told the Ambassador that if I had any positive information on this point, I would seek an opportunity of speaking with him further.

S[umner] W[elles]