The Ambassador in Argentina ( Armour ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 7:10 p.m.]
350. With reference to the Department’s circular telegram of April 17, 7 p.m. with regard to the question of German and Italian ships in American ports, the following is a translation of the reply today received from the Foreign Office to the Embassy’s note on this question:
“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency’s note the 18th instant in which, with reference to the proposal submitted by the Government of Uruguay to the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Commission, regarding the utilization of ships sheltered in American ports, you transmit the proposed resolution which the Government of the United States intends to present on this subject at the meeting to be held by the Commission on the 22nd instant.
This Government naturally admits the situation created by the cessation of the activities of those ships and the problem which consequently faces the countries in whose ports they are stationed, regarding the resumption of the services of common interest which they normally assure.
However your Excellency is acquainted with the views of this Government in considering this problem, contemplating a direct [Page 196] agreement with the owners of the ships and taking into account the respect due to the rights to which they are entitled. This position is also consistent with a particular situation which cannot but be pointed out to the Commission at Washington. Without entering into the consideration of the right of seizure which must be examined in one form or another by initiative of the Uruguayan Government, it is evident that such a serious and important measure depends for the moment on the effective benefit to be derived therefrom since the point at issue is not the theoretical discussion of a right but the practical and urgent solution required by present circumstances. This condition however will not be recognized—at least in so far as ships sheltered in Argentine ports are concerned—as long as there subsists the juridical divergence existing with the British Government and as long as the latter maintains, in detriment also to our neutral position, the attitude, which Your Excellency knows, of attributing to itself the right to dispose of part of the ships to be requisitioned.
The Argentine position regarding this problem is also particular and different owing to the fact that the German ships have already been transferred to the Argentine flag and that the Italian Government for its part has expressed its agreement for the sale of ships of that nationality. The right invoked in the resolution would therefore not apply to all cases and it should be asserted only in an optional manner in view of the alternative of other solutions freely accepted.
In this situation, without denying its support of the principle of collaboration contemplated by the initiative in question or of the solutions which may seem fair and necessary in each case, on behalf of the lofty and solidary interests of the continent, the Argentine Government believes that the plan proposed should be completed and made clear in accordance with the spirit of the foregoing considerations.[”]
In presenting the note to which the above is a reply I conveyed to the Under Minister for Foreign Affairs orally the information contained in the Department’s circular telegram April 17, 8 p.m.
In considering the Argentine Government’s reply the Department may wish to refer to the Embassy’s despatch No. 2204, April 2,13 regarding purchase of Italian ships, the British Government’s position, et cetera, referred to in the note.
- Not printed.↩