810.20 Defense/892: Telegram

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

171. Your 235, June 25, 4 p.m. Your message has been exceedingly interesting and I fully approve the steps you have so far taken. I suggest that you have some further conversations with the President and find out more precisely what he has in mind and what his considered decision may be concerning the wisdom of his going ahead with the plans he has in mind.

For the time being I think it would be preferable for us to withhold any commitment until you can see more clearly what his final considered judgment may be.

For the time being I have personally felt it better for this Government to refrain from proposing or supporting any plan for an immediate consultative meeting of Foreign Ministers. As I know you will understand, the situation is changing with kaleidoscopic rapidity and the position of this Government would not be easy were a consultative meeting to be held immediately in view of the fact that our own international position and our own policy may be subject to rapid change in the light of developing contingencies. Furthermore I have never myself felt that technical military and naval questions such as those embodied in staff conversations could be appropriately dealt with in a [Page 11] consultative meeting of Foreign Ministers, first, because of the fact that secrecy could not be maintained, which in my judgment is essential for a joint defense agreement, and secondly, because at any meeting of the Foreign Ministers political considerations due to publicity are inevitably bound to be predominant. This objection of course would not apply to any formalized multilateral agreement covering the reciprocal use of bases such as that suggested in point 3 of your telegram under reference.

I should add that neither the Brazilian nor Argentine Foreign Ministers believe that the moment is propitious for a consultative meeting and I doubt whether, without their full support, the results of a consultative meeting under present conditions would be as satisfactory as we should desire.

I am giving you these views with the understanding that they are tentative, but I wish to make as clear as possible to you the way the Department is considering this question at the present moment.

Consequently I would suggest that you talk further with the President and send me by telegraph all developments which may result from your conversations with him, making it clear to Dr. Santos that we are particularly sympathetic with the objectives he has in mind and would be more than glad to cooperate should it be possible in our judgment for us effectively to do so within the limitations I have indicated above.

Welles