561.311F1 Advisory Committee/1071: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in the United Kingdom (Matthews)

886. Your 797, February 19, midnight, and 856, February 23, 8 p.m. Paragraph 6 of the Memorandum of Agreement has been revised in accordance with United Kingdom suggestion that the last contract price negotiated by the United Kingdom be substituted for the 30-day [Page 507] average prices as the price of wheat to be continued as from the termination of hostilities (your 856).

In order to meet the problem presented by the words “termination of hostilities” in Paragraphs of the Memorandum (your 797), which will be defined in the Final Minutes of the Washington meeting as the signing of a general armistice, there has been added thereto in the revised draft the words “or from such earlier date as they may agree”, which would permit the bringing into force the provisions of that paragraph in the event no such armistice should be signed.

As to the question of form (your 856), it may be pointed out that the function of the Memorandum of Agreement is (a) to emphasize the need of a future conference and to provide for the convening thereof; (b) to facilitate the work of that conference by making available to it the results of the Washington meeting; and (c) to provide a basis for such interim measures as may be found necessary to prevent the wheat situation from deteriorating pending the calling of the conference. The draft convention is the means for carrying out the last two objectives, and it is proposed to revise slightly paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Memorandum to make clear this two-fold purpose of the convention. The Memorandum is intended to be informal and non-legalistic to stress the temporary and provisional character of the arrangement and, it is believed, will be less objectionable from the point of view of non-represented countries than a more formal interim agreement such as is suggested by the Foreign Office.

Furthermore, a self-contained interim agreement would be the same in all essential respects as the draft convention to be submitted to the future conference. The draft of the Final Minutes of the Washington meeting, which the United Kingdom delegation has transmitted to London and which records the provisions of the draft convention which will be brought into effect under various paragraphs of the Memorandum, will make it clear that at one stage or another practically all the principal articles of the draft convention may, depending on circumstances, be brought into force before a future conference is held.

An effort is being made today to put the memorandum of agreement and minutes in final form for submission to the several governments. When we were advised this morning by the United Kingdom representative of the proposals respecting the form of the arrangement we urged him to allow the work to proceed along the present lines pending an opportunity to bring the consideration set forth above to the attention of his Government. He agreed to this and also said that he would recommend by telegraph adherence to the present form.

Please discuss the matter immediately with the appropriate authorities and strongly urge upon them the importance of concluding the agreement promptly along present lines. You should emphasize [Page 508] that the form of the arrangement is important from the standpoint of the reaction of non-represented countries; that the present form was adopted because of British concern on this point, which we fully share; that a radical change in form now would mean that new proposals would have to be submitted to the other governments represented in these discussions with consequent delay and confusion which might even result in the complete failure of this effort.