810.20 Defense/1951: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the American Delegate to the Third Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the American Republics ( Welles )

79. For the Under Secretary. Your 52, January 25, 1 p.m.22 You are authorized to sign a document in the following sense:

“Meeting together, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, Dr. Juan B. Rossetti, and the Under Secretary of State of the United States of America, Mr. Sumner Welles, have considered the requirements of continental defense, and particularly the requirements of Chile to defend its long coastline in view of the situation created by the fact that the United States has been the victim of an aggression by a non-American state, that ten of the American Republics are at war with the Axis powers, and that the Meeting of Foreign Ministers at Rio has agreed to a resolution recommending that all the American Republics sever their relations with the Axis.

In view of the circumstances set forth by Minister Rossetti, the Under Secretary of State, Mr. Welles, declared that, in accord with unequivocal assurances to go to the assistance of any nation of the Western Hemisphere which has been the victim of non-American aggression, the United States, in the event of an attack by a non-American country against Chile, will take immediate steps to send naval, air and land forces to repulse this aggression. In the meantime, precautionary defense measures have been taken to render as unlikely as possible attack upon the coastline of Chile. The War and Navy Departments would welcome further opportunity to discuss amplification and implementation of the conversations previously held with the appropriate officers of the Chilean Government.”

The President, who was consulted with respect to your telegram, thought that you should point out to Rossetti that the United States has undertaken and expects to carry forward, with the assistance of the other American republics concerned, the defense of a seaboard on the Pacific of 10,000 miles; that since we do not have enough ships to locate [Page 8] them for patrol duty immediately off the coast of each country, they are being located in such areas as to derive the maximum utility; and that in the execution of our assurances of support, which have been made to all countries on the same basis, due account will, of course, be given to the special geographical situation, the importance of the country as a source of the production of strategic materials, and any other special factors. The President has made it very clear, however, that Chile cannot anticipate any preference over any other American republic in the protection we can afford, which, as stated above, will take into account all pertinent considerations.

The Navy Department suggests that you should also further remind the Chilean Foreign Minister that this Government expects Chile will make all possible military efforts herself to defend her territory and offshore waters and will protect friendly shipping near the Chilean coast.

As Rossetti undoubtedly understands, until Chile signs a lend-lease agreement no deliveries of war materials can be made.

  1. This message apparently was sent to Santiago on February 10.
  2. Vol. v, p. 39.