835.34/577: Telegram

The Ambassador in Argentina (Armour) to the Secretary of State

446. For the Under Secretary. Department’s telegram 305, March 4, midnight. I can well understand our Navy Department’s desire to maintain friendly relations with the Argentine Navy and I recognize the value inherent in an agreement providing for cooperation between our Navies “in the event that Argentina enters the war against the Axis.” The implication conveyed by such a clause, namely, the admission in writing of the possibility of Argentina entering the war against the Axis would in itself be of prime importance.

[Page 384]

On the other hand there is little doubt that the Government here would attempt to use the signing of any agreement to create the impression that the position taken by the Argentine Government had not affected our policy so far as the furnishing of war material is concerned. We would have to anticipate I fear the impression for a time at least that we had receded somewhat from our original position.

Referring to penultimate paragraph of your telegram effort should be made to avoid creation of impression that we are making a distinction between the Argentine Army and Navy, having in mind the existing jealousies between these services. If this aspect is not carefully handled it might have serious repercussions.

Not knowing the contents of the agreement, I am not in a position to comment on whether the undoubted advantages would be compensation for the aforementioned disadvantages. If the agreement is signed I would suggest that a carefully worded statement be issued at the time of signing to the effect that the actual furnishing of material is premised upon the signing of a lend-lease agreement.

Regarding such a statement, the inclusion in the agreement of a specific date 1942 when the furnishing of material is to commence would appear to present a difficulty. This might be interpreted here as a commitment to enter into a lease-lend agreement during the current year even though no change in the present policy of the Argentine Government had occurred in the meantime. If this point, provided it is well taken, could be cleared up and the suggested explanatory statement issued, it would make it more difficult for the Argentine Government to make capital out of the signing of the agreement.

I do not know whether it would be the intention to publish the text or summary of the agreement if and when signed. If this could be done, the publication accompanied by the statement suggested should indicate that there has been no fundamental change in our policy.