810.20 Defense/149½

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

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, accompanied by the Minister of Paraguay, called to see me this morning.

Dr. Salomoni commenced the conversation by stating how deeply appreciative he was of the many attentions and courtesies shown him by Secretary Hull in Habana, and by the Government of the United States, and particularly the President, since his arrival in this country. He stated that he had received instructions before leaving Asunción from President Estigarribia that he was to cooperate in the closest possible manner with the Secretary of State at Habana and that it had afforded him great satisfaction to be able to do so. I interjected the remark that Secretary Hull had told me of the valuable and effective cooperation which Dr. Salomoni had afforded him throughout the Conference.

The Minister then went on to say that he brought me a special message of greeting from President Estigarribia and I told the Minister that I always remembered with the utmost satisfaction my association with President Estigarribia during the short time he was Minister here, and that my hope was that that personal association might be renewed some time in the future. The Minister said that President Estigarribia wished me to know that the Argentine Government had brought very great pressure to bear upon the Government of Paraguay to refrain from sending its Minister of Foreign Affairs to Habana but that General Estigarribia had refused to pay any attention whatever and had insisted that the Minister of Foreign Affairs go in person as an indication of the importance which Paraguay attributed to the meeting at Habana and of its whole-hearted desire to support the position of the United States. I said that I was [Page 153] deeply gratified by this new proof of the identity of views on the part of our two Governments.

The Minister then went on to say that he had a further message to communicate to me from the President of Paraguay, namely, that the Government of Paraguay desired to cooperate to the fullest extent with the United States in all matters, whether they related to political or economic questions or to the question of military defense of the Western Hemisphere. I replied that I welcomed this message and that the views expressed were reciprocated in toto by the Government of the United States. I went on to say that in this connection, as the Paraguayan Minister in Washington knew, this Government believed it desirable and helpful to the cause of inter-American defense that secret conversations take place in the immediate future between high ranking officers of the United States Army and Navy and appropriate officials of the Government of Paraguay. I said that it was our belief that these conversations should appropriately take place in Asunción, and that, as the Minister knew, similar conversations would take place in the capitals of the overwhelming majority of the other American Republics. I stated that I had had prepared a memorandum, which I handed the Paraguayan Minister in Washington, which indicated the exact topics which we believed might helpfully be discussed in these conversations, and likewise suggested a date early in September for the holding of these conversations.12 The Minister of Foreign Affairs said that his Government was entirely in accord with the procedure indicated, as well as the objective sought, but that he and the Paraguayan Minister in Washington would like to have the opportunity of studying the specific suggestions made in order to ascertain whether their Government had any particular comments to make. Dr. Fernández said that he would inform me as soon as he had heard from his Government.

Dr. Salomoni then continued to express, in quite a long and eloquent address, the earnest hope with which the Government of Paraguay was looking to the Government of the United States for assistance in its actual economic distress. He stated that the assistance already tendered had been of the utmost value but that the economic situation on account of the World War was constantly deteriorating and that they hoped the Government of the United States would be able to extend further cooperation. I said in reply that this Government, of course, desired, within the limits of its capacity, to cooperate in every practical way with its American neighbors and with the Government of Paraguay, for which it had so high a regard, and that if the Minister would present to me any concrete or detailed suggestions, he and [Page 154] the President of Paraguay might rest assured that these suggestions would receive the immediate and most favorable possible consideration by this Government. The Minister expressed deep gratification and added that Dr. Fernández would, within a relatively short time, present to me for our consideration such plans.

Dr. Salomoni then left, expressing again his tremendous appreciation of the many kindnesses shown him here in Washington.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Agenda quoted in telegram No. 26, August 15, 4 p.m., to the Minister in Paraguay. See circular telegram of August 4, 4 p.m., and footnote 33, p. 20.