810.20 Defense/8–2840: Telegram

The Ambassador in Colombia (Braden) to the Secretary of State

240. My telegram No. 233 of August 24.9 Minister for Foreign Affairs stated to me this morning that the Minister of War was as anxious as I to initiate staff talks at the earliest possible moment and suggested conversations begin between September 5 and 10. Therefore, I recommend designated officers arrive here not later than September 4.

The Minister again referring to debate in Congress said Colombia being a democracy could not give so prompt acceptance as certain other countries to our inquiries or requests relating to canal and hemisphere defense. There must always be maintained a balance between solidarity and sovereignty. He could at any moment obtain congressional approval of Habana Convention and Government’s foreign policy but Was determined at all times to have backing of entire country irrespective of political divisions. To this end he must always be careful not to exceed his authority and responsibilities to Congress and the people. “It would be just as disastrous for him continuously to be juridically overdrawn as for an individual to be financially overdrawn at his bank.” Therefore, he earnestly requests that in forthcoming staff talks we specify everything we may want henceforth from Colombia insisting that entire program can be laid down now thus avoiding presentation subsequently of a series of requests. His Government is impressed with fact forthcoming staff conversations are to be more definitive than those held in June.

I replied I appreciated his desires but kaleidoscopic developments abroad I feared would frequently make it impossible for us to anticipate requirements but I would advise the Department of his wishes and was confident every possible effort would be made to meet them in staff conversations.

Minister of War at Embassy dinner last night inquired why staff conversations had been postponed. This, combined with above, indicates Minister for Foreign Affairs, due to preoccupation over Senate [Page 76] debate, requested postponement without consulting his Cabinet colleague and advancing date to September 5, is probably a compromise between them.

  1. Not printed.