722.2315/2486: Telegram

The Ambassador in Peru (Norweb) to the Secretary of State

579. My telegram No. 578, October 30, 11 a.m. The Peruvian Minister for Foreign Affairs told my Argentine and Brazilian colleagues and me that the 1936 status quo line would serve as a basis for exploratory conversations looking toward a definitive settlement, although he said that there might be some difficulty because Peru must insist upon retaining Andoas on the Postaza River and Rocafuerte [on the?] Napo. He added that, of course, Peru would extend free navigation facilities to Ecuador and we emphasized that the latter country should have such facilities and that they should be based upon navigation at the time of the low water mark.

The Minister stated that it should be possible to reach an agreement within the next 3 months and added that if this were not done he did not know when it could be accomplished. Thus Peru has reversed its former position and now professes to desire an early and definitive settlement. My colleagues and I are convinced that the Peruvian Government does not wish to make a specific proposal but hopes that the three friendly countries can assist in explorative conversations that will bring the two parties together in an effort to reach agreement through compromise on minimum rather than on maximum claims.

The Peruvian attitude was confirmed in general by President Prado during a conversation yesterday with the Brazilian Ambassador.

In order to further the present effort my colleagues and I agreed that the Argentine Ambassador would approach the Ecuadoran Minister in Lima discreetly and attempt to ascertain if the presence in Lima of the Peruvian Minister to Ecuador may be in connection with direct negotiations between Peru and Ecuador and if so, how our own efforts may contribute to such a move. The Argentine Ambassador also might be able to obtain from the Ecuadoran Minister some indication about the minimum claims of Ecuador in order that we may compare these with the Peruvian views about the 1936 line.

It is suggested that during the next few weeks the efforts being made in Lima would be greatly facilitated if the situation at Quito [Page 238] is handled with special tact. Perhaps it would be wise for action at Quito to be directed principally toward creating a favorable atmosphere; and it would be most helpful if discussion of alleged minor incidents, of the demilitarized zone and of the organization and activities of the observers could be restricted to the minimum necessary to assure compliance with the essential terms of the Talara Agreement.