Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

Participants: Secretary of State Hull, The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, Dr. Raúl de Roux, and the Panamanian Ambassador, Señor Dr. Don Carlos N. Brin

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, Dr. Raúl de Roux, accompanied by the Panamanian Ambassador, came in at his request. Although it was a mere courtesy call, I proceeded to review the history of the good neighbor policy beginning with the Conference of Montevideo in 193334 and tracing its development among the American republics in all of its important aspects up to the present date. I need not here review the history of the development of Pan [Page 451] American relations during this period based on the policy of the good neighbor with its basic elements of friendliness, understanding, peace, and a spirit of mutual cooperation in political, economic and social fields.

The Minister replied in a thoroughly friendly spirit, expressing a reciprocal feeling and attitude, both as to the present and the future. The usual complimentary references to our respective countries and peoples were made, together with a brief history of our efforts here to be cooperative with Panama, including the new treaty that was recently negotiated.

I then recited the main points in the policies and course of Germany, Japan and Italy from 1933 on, which I said pointed unerringly to movements of conquest on their part; that during these years this Government proclaimed and practiced all of the principles of world order under law, including justice, peaceful procedures, adherence to high moral concepts, reciprocal fair dealing and fair play. I said that I pled with each of these countries to change their policies, which were leading straight toward war and conquest, leaving nothing unsaid or undone in a most persistent effort to prevail on them to refrain from plunging the world into a state of lawlessness and more or less barbarism; that it proved absolutely impossible, and I have a profound conviction that Hitler plans to dominate this hemisphere, politically and economically, if he succeeds in getting control of the high seas by conquering Great Britain. I elaborated on the usual arguments I have made in the past on the state of actual and imminent danger from such domination by Hitler that confronts this hemisphere and each of the nations in it.

I then returned to a few additional brief references to Panama and our relations with that country. The Minister said that he and his Government proposed to observe the good neighbor policy and the spirit of cooperation underlying it, and that in order to maintain understanding and bring about a friendly settlement of any differences, the Minister felt that he should make this trip to Washington to enable him to discuss these matters in person. I replied that I was pleased, but not surprised to see this fine example of cooperation on the part of the Foreign Minister, and that my Government would reciprocate the fine spirit which he had shown. I assured him that my associates would meet him and his Government in a spirit of mutual concession and would endeavor, in the friendliest manner, to work out a settlement of the matters being discussed between our two countries. He insisted that he would meet us halfway.

C[ordell] H[ull]

[Foreign Minister De Roux and Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles discussed United States–Panama relations in a series of five [Page 452] meetings held on June 2, 4, 9, 16, and 23, 1941. These direct negotiations have been summarized by Almon R. Wright of the Historical Office, Department of State, in his article “Defense Sites Negotiations Between the United States and Panama, 1936–1948”, printed in Department of State Bulletin, August 11, 1952, pages 212–219 (see pages 215–216).]