800.85/598: Telegram

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

618. My No. 610, May 7, 9 p.m.82 President Santos confirmed published report today that he had instructed Ambassador Turbay to agree to the Department’s proposal for the two Italian tankers, notes to be exchanged in Bogotá at Turbay’s request.

The President repeated suggestion made by Minister of Foreign Affairs to Keith as reported in Embassy’s telegram No. 570, April 29, 8 p.m. to the effect that should Italy make a claim for difference in our price and the price asked by Italy and should this claim be sustained by an arbitral tribunal the United States would guarantee to reimburse Colombia for this amount. I informed the President that I would transmit his suggestion to the Department. As Colombian Government is now complying unreservedly with our wishes despite pressure from the Argentine Government and the Chilean Government which Santos said was at the instance of Axis I feel it only reasonable [Page 200] that we should agree to reimburse Colombia for any loss which it might suffer as a result of its cooperation with the United States.

The President said that he is prepared to turn over tankers immediately and that funds received in payment would be deposited in a Colombian bank until after the war. He urges that the United States officials who are to take over the ships arrive at Cartagena at the earliest possible and confidentially so as to minimize possibility of sabotage. Please telegraph whether Department will comply with the President’s request.

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