The British Ambassador (Lothian) to the Secretary of State

No. 459

Sir: Following on our conversation on September 9th,91 I have the honour under instructions from His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs92 to invite reference to the following passage occurring in State Department press release No. 403 of the 7th September93 dealing with a notification by the United States Government to the Governments of all other American Republics touching the understanding reached with His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom for the lease of naval and air bases in Newfoundland and in the islands of Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and Antigua, and in British Guiana.

“The resulting facilities at these bases will, of course, be made available alike to all American Republics on the fullest cooperative basis for the common defence of the hemisphere and in entire harmony with the spirit of the pronouncements made and the understandings reached at the conferences of Lima, Panama and Habana”.

The question as to the access which His Majesty’s forces are to have to the sea and air bases is a matter which will have to be settled by common agreement later. With respect to the passage quoted above I am instructed hereby formally to reserve the position of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, and to state that it is assumed by them that the United States Government will ensure that [Page 76]His Majesty’s ships and aircraft in the leased areas will enjoy the equivalent of any facilities and privileges which the United States Government may contemplate granting to the Governments of the other American Republics.

Further I am to invite attention to the last paragraph of my letter to Mr. Sumner Welles, dated August 8th, 1940, in which I informed him that His Majesty’s Government felt obligated to stipulate in connection with the air facilities which they were offering for development by Pan American Airways on behalf of the War Department, that any British air transport undertaking designated by His Majesty’s Government, engaged in the operation of air transport services between the West Indies and North and South America will have the unconditional use of these facilities—i. e. aerodromes, wireless installations, etc.—established by American interests on British soil and these facilities will be made available to such British undertakings at reasonable commercial charges. This question of commercial access is no doubt also a matter which will have to be considered when the details of the leases are under discussion.

I have [etc.]

  1. No record of this conversation found in Department files.
  2. Anthony Eden.
  3. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, September 7, 1940, p. 196.