Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by Mr. Selden Chapin, Liaison Officer in the Office of the Under Secretary of State
As no reply had been received this morning to our telegram to the Ambassador at Buenos Aires requesting suggestions as to a visit by the Wichita, and in view of the necessity of determining a schedule of movements for the two heavy cruisers now in the South Atlantic so as to keep them within easy steaming distance of Montevideo, I called Mr. Armour on the telephone to ask him whether he thought a visit by the Wichita to Buenos Aires or to Bahia Blanca–Puerto Belgrano would be agreeable to the Argentine Government.
Mr. Armour stated that he had had the question very much in mind and had deferred replying until he had a further opportunity of speaking with Captain Spears, who returned from Montevideo this morning. While the conversation was naturally guarded, he indicated that he was doubtful of the advisability of a visit by a heavy cruiser to Argentina at this time, but said he would sound out the situation and endeavor to send a telegram today or, at the latest, tomorrow. He intimated further that the presence of the two heavy cruisers in Brazilian and Uruguayan ports had already been seized [Page 1163] upon by certain elements in Argentina to circulate rumors with regard to the designs of the United States, and that the motives of this Government might be further twisted in the event of a visit by these ships to Argentine ports. He said that of course the visit of the new destroyer O’Brien, now in Buenos Aires, which had been arranged for some weeks ago, was an entirely different thing and perfectly correct.
He said that the matter was difficult, particularly as the Minister to whom he would have to apply for the permission, presumably the Minister of Marine, held certain rather strong political views. I told him that the Department fully appreciated the situation and thanked him for his information, and would certainly not suggest sending any ships to Argentine ports unless we heard later from him that the visits would be advisable.
Mr. Armour said that the Department would be interested to learn that last night Dr. Cantilo13 gave out to the press the substance of our note with regard to the conference.14 The Foreign Minister had informed the press that Argentina had accepted the invitation to the conference in principle but had stipulated that there was to be no general discussion as to the future of the “Malvina” (Falkland) Islands, and that the Argentine Government, before commenting further, was naturally awaiting receipt of the proposed agenda of the conference.