740.00113 European War 1939/436a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

3400. British Embassy has informed the Department that a meeting will be held in London on July 24 of Financial Ministers of the Allied Governments for the purpose of discussing the text of proposed declaration reserving the right to such Governments to declare invalid all transfers of property rights and interests in territory occupied or controlled by the Axis. The text follows:

“The . . . . . . . . . . . . Governments think it obligatory upon them to issue a formal warning to all concerned and in particular to neutral Governments that they reserve the right to declare invalid all transfers of property rights and interests of any description whatsoever situated in territory occupied or controlled by Axis powers whether such transfers have taken the form of open loot and plunder or of purchases legal or apparently legal in form and purporting to be voluntarily effected. Neutral Governments are invited to take all possible steps to warn their nationals against any purchases from Axis powers or their nationals or agents whether directly or indirectly, of property, rights and interests of any kind whatsoever which at date of invasion or occupation of any territory of any one of abovementioned Governments belonged to nationals or to persons resident in such territory. The Governments concerned will accept no responsibility for loss arising as result of such purchases.”

It is suggested that a representative in the Embassy attend this conference as an observer, and that he should inform the conference of the sympathetic interest with which this declaration is being examined by the appropriate authorities in Washington. It is anticipated that a definitive position will be taken within the next 10 days, and it is therefore suggested that final action with respect to the proposal of the other Governments be delayed. At the meeting it is also suggested that the following points be clarified:

Will the declaration be a joint declaration issued by all the United Nations, or will each Government issue a separate declaration simultaneously with the issuance of an identic declaration by the others?
Should the declaration, because of the political nature of its contents, be issued by the Foreign Ministers rather than by the Finance Ministers?
Should not the language referring to property belonging to nationals and persons resident in such territory be modified to include property within such territory belonging to persons who are not resident therein?

It is requested that a report on results of the conference and on foregoing points be transmitted by cable to the Department.