Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of the American Republics (Bursley)37

Mr. Mallet, Counselor of the British Embassy, called this afternoon and referred to previous conversations he has had in the Department with regard to the possibility of confirmation by a treaty (or exchange [Page 677] of notes) of any arrangement effected between the Mexican Government and the oil companies for a settlement of the present controversy.

Mr. Mallet said that the British companies had furnished the Foreign Office with a copy of the memorandum Mr. Richberg had left with President Cárdenas early this month and that, according to the fourth section of that memorandum, Mr. Richberg had suggested the possibility of such an agreement between the countries and had definitely referred to the possible negotiation of a commercial treaty between Mexico and the United States which would enable mutual protection for the nationals of each country and their properties in the other, and give assurances of continuing improved relations between each Government and citizens of the other.

Mr. Mallet said that if the Department could do so, he would appreciate it if the Department would inform him whether it would be disposed to sign a treaty or exchange notes with Mexico giving recognition to any solution which may be reached of the oil controversy and whether this Government would be inclined also to negotiate a treaty with Mexico looking to the mutual protection of the citizens and property of one in the territory of the other. He said that he thought his Government would desire to take a similar course to ours.

I told Mr. Mallet that I did not know whether the Department had taken a decision with respect to these matters, but that with regard to the question of a treaty or exchange of notes to give greater force to a solution of the oil controversy, it was my personal assumption that it had not been considered particularly likely Mexico would agree to such an arrangement and for this reason other aspects of the matter had not been fully explored.

Mr. Mallet said he was leaving Washington and would return on Thursday, at which time he would inquire whether there was any information I could furnish him regarding these matters.

In view of the pledge of secrecy with which Mr. Richberg furnished us a copy of his memorandum, I did not give any indication that we had a copy of it. With reference to the Mexican attitude towards a possible treaty or exchange of notes to implement the oil agreement, if reached, I refer to the last paragraph on page 2 of RA’s memorandum of May 16, 1939, stating:

[Here follows the last paragraph of memorandum printed on page 673.]

I should appreciate instructions as to whether the Department desires me to convey any expression of views to Mr. Mallet.

I may add that it would seem likely, in the event an agreement for the mutual protection of citizens and property is agreed to by Mexico, that Mexico also would want a trade agreement granting reduced import duties on vegetables, petroleum products, and perhaps other products.

  1. Addressed to the Chief of the Division of the American Republics and to the Under Secretary of State.