740.0011 European War 1939/18384

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)

Mr. Wrong47 came in to see me today at his request. He wished to discuss the drafting of the Joint Declaration. He presented the attached memorandum48 which embodied the comments his Government desired to make on the drafting, and maintained that no question of substance really was involved.

I said that if no real question was involved, I hoped the Canadian Government would not press them. We had reached a point at which many parties, and particularly the U. S. S. R., were now prepared to sign. But if we reopened the draft we probably might have some new claims advanced which would not be to the general advantage. I told Mr. Wrong in confidence that the first instinct of the Russians had been not to sign this draft but to issue a statement of their own which included no solid agreements regarding a separate peace or other necessary commitments. I hoped therefore that the Canadian Government would consider that if we did not adopt [Page 25] their suggestions, it was due to the fact that there was danger in reopening the subject.

Mr. Wrong adverted to the fact that the document had been presented to Canada through the British Embassy. In view of the unusual nature of the proceeding they did not wish to make a point of this and merely called our attention to the fact that they rather expected that in all similar joint negotiations, we would address them directly.

I said that I had specifically raised this point with Lord Halifax and had inquired of him whether, under the circumstances, it would not be well for us to talk directly to the Canadians. Lord Halifax said he knew the Canadian view but under the peculiar circumstances, he thought it could be handled through the Embassy. The Canadian Government therefore might take note of the fact that we had entered a caveat on the point.

As he was leaving Mr. Wrong observed that if their suggestions could not be included in the draft he was of opinion his Government would nevertheless sign it, although Mackenzie King49 did attach importance to the redrafting of the second paragraph.

A. A. Berle, Jr.
  1. Hume Wrong, Minister Counselor of the Canadian Legation in the United States.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Canadian Prime Minister.