740.0011 Pacific War/1085

Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Adviser on Political Relations (Duggan)

The Ambassador4 stated that the Argentine Foreign Minister5 had informed him that Argentina was giving publicity to the text of the note which Mr. Armour had read over the telephone to Mr. Welles.6 He said that the text of the note had also been sent by telegram so that it would be available to the Department.7

The Foreign Minister further added that it had been decided by the Cabinet to issue a decree8 which would declare that the usual neutrality existed as between Japan and Great Britain and the British [Page 58] Dominions. With respect to the United States the decree would refer in a number of considerandos to the declarations of solidarity of Lima9 and Habana and conclude that the United States was not to be regarded as a belligerent. Mr. Armour stated that on account of the necessity of securing signatures of all members of the Argentine Cabinet it would probably be tomorrow evening before the decree was issued.

Mr. Armour asked whether I had any comment. I said that the decree was good as far as it went but it was negative rather than positive. Mr. Armour stated that he had urged upon the Foreign Minister that the decree be accompanied by a declaration of solidarity. The Foreign Minister argued that the references to the appropriate resolutions of Lima and Habana took care of that.

The Ambassador said that Ruiz-Guiñazu had asked his opinion with regard to the Japanese inquiry as to whether Argentina would represent Japanese interests in the United States, Great Britain, and Canada. Dr. Ruiz-Guiñazu stated that if Argentina answered favorably to the Japanese Government it would be with the reservation that its acceptance was conditioned upon compliance with the international commitments which Argentina undertook at the meeting of Foreign Ministers in Habana.

Mr. Armour stated that he had replied to Dr. Ruiz-Guiñazu informally and personally that it looked to him as though this inquiry of the Japanese might be a maneuver to put Argentina in an embarrassing position and break the inter-American front. Moreover, it might put Argentina in an extremely difficult position if the American Republics were to decide on some joint action which would be inconsistent with Argentina’s handling of Japanese interests.

Mr. Armour asked my comment. I told him that I thought that it would be exceedingly unfortunate. Mr. Armour thought that the British had made a prime mistake in asking Argentina to handle British interests in Japan It was difficult now for Argentina to decline to represent Japanese interests in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. Mr. Armour did not know whether the Argentine attitude would be changed by the British requesting some other country to handle its interests, but he suggested that the Department consider this possibility.

Dr. Ruiz-Guiñazu told Mr. Armour that he would be glad to have the informal advice of this Government. Mr. Armour hoped that he could give him this either later this evening or the first thing tomorrow morning.

Laurence Duggan
  1. Norman Armour, Ambassador in Argentina.
  2. Enrique Ruiz Guiñazú.
  3. Under Secretary of State.
  4. See infra.
  5. For text of decree, see telegram No. 1411, December 9, 10 p.m., from the Ambassador in Argentina, p. 59.
  6. For correspondence regarding the Pan American Conference at Lima in 1938, see Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. v, pp. 1 ff.