500.A21/30: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in the Netherlands ( Gordon )

18. At the Secretary’s press conference this morning in response to inquiries regarding the approach to neutrals on the subject of conditions after the termination of hostilities,82 the Secretary said he might be able to give the correspondents a better perspective by speaking along the following lines. He said that for some time we had been seeking to keep alive basic ideas, formulas and programs relating to a sound and stable international relationship after the war. This had included the problem of a progressive reduction in military armaments and the adoption of a sound and liberal commercial policy as the only means of avoiding autarchy and economic totalitarianism and of moving toward the opposite direction of sanity and economic recovery. The Secretary said that we had been preaching these things, and striving to keep them alive, and that we hoped to see every nation in the world gradually subscribe to the same views, so that when a peace conference came there would be a definite understanding and commitments as far as possible to these basic principles. He said that the Department had been doing some work along these lines through the committees that had been established.

A correspondent asked whether after preliminary discussions of economic matters and disarmament had been held these conversations would proceed to other questions. In reply, the Secretary said that there were no plans for discussing anything that did not relate solely to the post-war period, and no plans for the discussion of anything except the two questions he had cited. A correspondent remarked that [Page 119] it had been stated yesterday that the conversations were being carried out through diplomatic channels and he inquired whether any possibility was foreseen that a conference might be held of leading neutrals. The Secretary answered that he had nothing in mind to that effect.

A correspondent asked whether it could be assumed that what this Government was attempting to do was to organize a sort of world-wide neutrality bloc which, by reason of its adherence to common ideals, would be able to speak with an authoritative voice at a peace conference. The Secretary reiterated that neutrality was a matter which pertained to war situations, and that this Government did not have in mind the discussion of anything except the two problems which he had described.

Repeat foregoing to the following missions:

  • Brussels
  • Copenhagen
  • Oslo
  • Stockholm
  • Helsinki
  • Moscow
  • Ankara
  • Belgrade
  • Bucharest

Add following paragraph in telegrams to Moscow and Helsinki:

For your personal information conversations are not being initiated with the Governments of countries engaged in hostilities.

Hull
  1. For public announcement, on February 9, 1940, of the diplomatic conversations with all neutral countries, see Department of State Bulletin, February 10, 1940, p. 153.