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

The British Ambassador called to see me at his request this morning. The Ambassador asked if I had heard from Guatemala as to what the reply of the Guatemalan Government to the British proposal in the boundary dispute might be. I replied that I had received a cable from our Legation in Guatemala City reporting on this subject. The Ambassador said that his Government was deeply grateful to the [Page 426] United States for the helpful interest it had displayed in the adjustment of this controversy, and that the British Minister in Guatemala City had reported to the British Foreign Office that the Guatemalan reply12 was far less antagonistic than he had anticipated, due to the friendly, although informal, advice proffered by the United States Government to the Government of Guatemala. The Ambassador said that the Guatemalan Government accepted the proposal for arbitration and for the constitution of the tribunal suggested by the British Government, but insisted that the tribunal have competence to determine whether or not the treaty of 1859 was or was not null and void. The Ambassador said that his Government could not agree to this since this would lay open the question of the sovereignty of British Honduras, but that he believed the first steps had now been taken towards an agreement as to the terms of reference and his Government was hopeful that a satisfactory outcome would be found.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Dated February 3, 1940; for text, see Guatemala, Continuation of the White Book, III, p. 137.