714.44A15/147: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Bullitt)

175. For Welles. The British Embassy has furnished the Department with a copy of the British reply to the Guatemalan note of February 3 which was delivered by the British Minister to Guatemala on March 4. A copy of the note will doubtless be made available to you in London. The communication sets forth that the British Government can under no circumstances admit of direct or indirect discussion of its title to British Honduras but that it has no intention of going back on the wide terms of reference which have been submitted. It does not exclude the right of the Guatemalan Government to submit to the tribunal a claim for cession of territory but reserves the fullest liberty to contend that such a claim could not be a proper method to compensate for non-compliance with Article 7 of the Treaty of 1859.

Mr. Des Portes has been informed by President Ubico that he considers the new British note most unsatisfactory and that he has lost patience. In a telegram dated March 5 [7]24 Mr. Des Portes states that it is his considered opinion “that unless the British Government is willing to enlarge the terms of reference, there is grave danger of an immediate breakdown in the negotiations” and requests that you be informed. He added for your strictly confidential information that the British Minister to Guatemala is of the same opinion. President Ubico has stated that if the British Minister and the Guatemalan Foreign Minister could get together and discuss the matter man to man, something might be accomplished.

When the Counselor of the British Embassy called on March 6 to leave a copy of the British note of March 4, it was suggested to him that a continued exchange of formal notes seemed unlikely to lead to a satisfactory solution, whereas if the British Minister in Guatemala could be instructed to pursue the matter in informal discussion with the Guatemalan Minister for Foreign Affairs the chances of arriving at a satisfactory agreement on the terms of reference would seem to be greater. In stating that he would convey this suggestion to his Government, the Counselor volunteered the statement that it would be [Page 434] helpful if you were to have an opportunity to discuss the matter with the British Foreign Office during your stay in London.

If, as we are inclined to believe, the British Government may be prepared to go further in meeting the Guatemalan point of view than it has made clear in its notes, a modification of the instructions to the British Minister in Guatemala permitting the matter to be discussed should aid in disclosing this. In any case we hope you will have an opportunity to take up the matter while you are in London.

  1. Telegram No. 25, p. 432.