800.85/523: Telegram

The Ambassador in Colombia (Braden) to the Secretary of State

33. My telegram No. 5 of January 2, 11 p.m. President Santos yesterday afternoon informed me that negotiations with Argentina regarding tankers have been terminated and Colombia is now ready to take ownership and to transfer immediately to us.

He suggests that price to be paid be left to arbitration between Colombia and Italy after war and that we then reimburse Colombia without profit to this country.

In response to President’s inquiry, and in view of Department’s circular telegram of January 3, 10 p.m.,77I said I assumed we were anxious to get possession of tankers as soon as possible.

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We will, of course, have to supply crews to remove the vessels from Cartagena.

President is particularly anxious as part of this deal to obtain two merchant ships. I expressed great doubt this could be done for a considerable time; certainly not until our shipbuilding program reached a point where all war requirements were cared for. He said he understood this thoroughly but hoped it could be worked out in order to insure transportation of cargoes to and from Colombia during the war.

The Minister of Foreign Relations is formally to confirm the foregoing to me tomorrow morning. Therefore, I would appreciate receiving telegraphic instructions as soon as possible.

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