Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)

Mr. Opie came in to see me at his request. He reported that he had received a cable from London setting out a Brazilian request to be represented in talks which are being held by the British with the Finance Ministers of the governments-in-exile. These talks relate to establishment of currency and currency rates within these countries when they are liberated. In these conferences the United States is represented by an observer, Mr. Penrose.21

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Mr. Opie said that the Foreign Office was taking the line that they were quite willing to invite Brazil to send an observer to these conferences, if they so wished. They were, however, somewhat surprised at Brazil’s interest in a conference on monetary matters which was of very little (if any) interest to Brazil, since Brazil of course had none of the territory in question and probably would not be entering into the occupation of these territories. He wished to state this to the United States.

I commented that this probably arose from the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer some days ago. Kingsley Wood had said in Parliament that they were having conversations with the governments-in-exile relating to monetary matters. This had been confused, in our press, with the talks going forward on monetary stabilization here; and I thought it not unlikely that, because of the misinterpretation given by both the British and American press, the Brazilians were under the same misapprehension as the journalists. In that case, their desire to be represented was quite understandable. I said I thought that on explanation the matter probably would straighten itself out readily.

I said that, if Mr. Opie saw no objection, I would endeavor myself to explain the matter to the Brazilian Ambassador here for his information. We had maintained a steady policy of endeavoring to keep our American associates, and especially Brazil, fully advised of what was going on; they had been sent a copy of the proposed monetary stabilization plan; and I thought a good purpose might be served by explaining to the Brazilian Embassy here that the conferences in London really related to a quite different subject.

I said that it might be useful for the Foreign Office to bear in mind one note which had been appearing from time to time in the Brazilian press. At the close of the first World War, Brazil, with or without justification, considered that she had been pretty much excluded from the Versailles settlements. I had observed certain references to this feeling recently, and I thought that the Brazilian Foreign Office might be a little nervous on the point.

A. A. B[erlb], Jr.
  1. Ernest F. Penrose, economist, special assistant to the Embassy at London.