835.34/600: Telegram

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

760. For the Under Secretary. Reference Department’s air mail instruction 2103 April 3.31 Following is translation of note received today from Minister for Foreign Affairs.

“As Your Excellency knows, the Argentine Government, duly appreciative of the plan of collaboration proffered by the Lease-Lend Act, in due course took pertinent steps in Washington, after obtaining the necessary opinions thereon with a view to carrying out insofar as this country is concerned, the program of military aid and supply authorized by that act.

In so doing, in accordance with the communications received and with the explanations made personally by Your Excellency in this chancellery, the Argentine Government understood that the loan to be obtained under the Lend-Lease Act did not necessarily depend on the conversations previously suggested by Your Excellency’s Government for the study of a common defense plan. Nevertheless, the military-naval delegation which was sent to the United States for the study of a plan of purchases, was given instructions which, with the collaboration of the Ambassador in Washington made possible the simultaneous discussion of the agreement for the application of the Lease-Lend Act and for the plan of continental defense cooperation, or military agreement, as it was called in the course of the negotiations, thereby admitting the connection logically existing between the purchase plan and the political circumstances to which the plan must apply.

The text of the plan of cooperation having been agreed upon in March last by the technical delegations of both countries, the Argentine representatives—this Government concurring—understood that the agreement for the supply of armaments which was implicitly related to the other, would be considered at the same time. However, such was not the opinion of the Department of State, even though the value of the plan of cooperation could be only relative and its fulfillment would certainly be insufficient without the simultaneous application of the supplies agreement which was to assure the material required.

This Government however being desirous of promoting with Your Excellency’s Government every possible understanding in keeping with the needs of cooperation called for by present circumstances, authorized its delegation in Washington to sign the plan of defensive cooperation independently, insofar as it implies the recognition of a policy of collaboration adopted in accordance with the obligations assumed by the country, which it is disposed to fulfill in the measure that its resources may permit.

Your Excellency is aware of the circumstances which also prevented, even in that insufficient form, the conclusion of the agreement negotiated in Washington. Once the terms were modified on which both [Page 394] delegations, Argentine and American, had apparently agreed in the first place with a view to establishing the scope of the plan of defensive cooperation, the Department of State submitted to our Embassy in Washington a new proposal subordinating in our case the benefits of the Lend-Lease Act to certain obligations relating to the control and protection of shipping on the Atlantic Coast.

This condition which in practice could not apply to the other nations of the continent, thus appears to become an exclusively Argentine obligation which this Government did not deem it possible to accept inasmuch as it implies the creation of a situation of belligerency which the country does not desire and for which it is not prepared.

On this occasion, I wish to state to Your Excellency that the Argentine Government, without disregarding the special circumstances that must be borne in mind by the Government of the United States in regulating the delivery of armaments to the various countries which availed themselves of the Lend-Lease Act, hopes at the same time that the difficulties arising in the present negotiations may finally be settled in the spirit of cooperation which at present animates the policy of American countries faced, notwithstanding the diversity of their situations, with similar problems of security and supply.

In that same spirit the Argentine Government will facilitate any solution which, within its own possibilities, may signify a useful contribution in the present situation of the continent. In this sense I take pleasure in informing Your Excellency that, after having obtained from the Government of the United States the facilities requested for the incorporation of the tankers Victoria and Ulysses under the national flag the Argentine Government has just facilitated in the same manner the transfer of the Argentine tanker Esso Formosa to the flag of your country which, as Your Excellency has pointed out, needs its services and has been using the tanker for some time.”

Reference paragraph 2 of note regarding Argentine Government’s understanding that loan not dependent on outcome defense conversations apparently refers to statements made by you to Espil and by me to Foreign Office based upon Department’s 511, August 6, 7 p.m., 1941.32 See also my 854 August 19, 6 p.m., 1941.33

In conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday he raised the point referred to in paragraphs 5 and 6 of note. I took the position that we had if anything favored Argentina since other nations of continent receiving material under “Lease-Lend” had either declared war or broken with Axis Powers. Minister for Foreign Affairs used same arguments set forth in note as reasons why he felt Government could not accept our proposals. To my question whether German submarine attack on Victoria might not alter their attitude, he replied he would have to await further reports on this matter before venturing opinion. However, his subsequent remarks on general situation did not hold out much encouragement.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Printed in Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. vi, section under Argentina entitled “Discussions between the United States and Argentina regarding a Lend-Lease Agreement …”
  3. Ibid.