Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The Ambassador of Mexico40 called to see me this morning at his request.

The Ambassador said that the President of Mexico had telephoned him this morning and asked him to call upon me personally in order to inform me that agitation of considerable volume had already been manifest in Mexico for some steps to be taken looking towards intervention by the United Nations in favor of the granting of independence to the people of India by the British Government. President Avila Camacho told him that he was visited yesterday evening by leaders of the principal labor organizations, all of whom had urged him to request the President of the United States to join with the Soviet Government in offering mediation between the Indian National Congress and the British Government with a view to preventing great loss of life in India and with a view to further Indian independence. The President wanted to know what the views of this Government might be with regard to this question and whether there was anything helpful he could do.

I asked the Ambassador to convey to the President the deep appreciation of this Government for the confidence he had shown, which was a new demonstration of the particularly close and intimate relations between our two countries at this critical time.

I said the President of Mexico could be assured that the President had been giving the utmost thought and consideration to the question of India for a long time past. I said that at the time Sir Stafford Cripps had been sent to India by the British Government it had been the earnest hope of the United States that a satisfactory and [Page 718] fair solution could be found. Unfortunately, those negotiations had broken down. The leaders of the Indian National Congress were demanding complete independence immediately and the British were not willing to concede more than the assurance for complete independence at the end of the war period together with certain adjustments during the intervening period which in the opinion of the British Government woud not jeopardize the ability of Great Britain to defend India and legitimate interests of the United Nations. I said that unfortunately it was clear that a stalemate had now arisen and it was difficult to foresee how long this might last.

I asked the Ambassador further to say that as the Mexican Government well knew this Government had officially and publicly stated on many occasions that it favored the independence of all peoples who desired independence and that our policy with regard to India was therefore clearly established. I stated, however, that at the present moment in the opinion of the President of the United States the successful winning of the war was superior to every other consideration. He felt that no steps should be taken by him which would impair the position of the Government of India and its consequent ability to maintain order and to make possible the defense of India against probable impending Japanese attempts of invasion and to insure the passage from India to China of urgently needed military supplies and equipment. I said that if at any time the President believed that both parties to the dispute felt that his friendly services would be of value in putting an end to the controversy, he and other leaders of the United Nations should be in a position to render such assistance, but that he felt his intervention at this time would not be conducive to the military objectives which he had uppermost in mind.

I said that of course the public utterances of Gandhi and the written statements which he had recently made would only lead to the belief that the winning of the war by the United Nations was something in which he was not interested and that the situation which he had now in part been responsible for creating could only be of advantage to Japan and was obviously being stirred up and fostered by Japanese propaganda.

The Ambassador said that in his own opinion Gandhi was secretly working with the Japanese and he feared that was also the case of a large majority of the Indian National Congress.

He said he would immediately communicate what I had said to the President of Mexico and that he was confident that the President of Mexico would understand the situation fully and prevent undue agitation in the Republic.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Don Francisco Castillo Nájera.