Notes From President Roosevelt’s Press Conference of March 30, 194356a

Notes from Press Conference #888 held 3–30–43.

The President: “Mr. Eden has left, and we decided that it was probably better not to give out one of those formal statements by the two of us. And he asked me to just talk to you all informally about it.

We are in entire agreement. We have had series—and he has had series of conferences with a lot of people—the Secretary of State, and his advisers, and the Members of the Senate and the House, and so forth; and he took a little trip to see some of the camps.

We talked about everything—which might be put down as current military and political affairs, and other questions arising out of the war relating to the present and the future. I think I can say for both of us that they disclose very close similarity of outlook on the part of the two governments, and a very fruitful meeting of the minds on all the matters that came under discussion.

We talked about the practical problems that will arise on the surrender of the enemy—problems that will face the governments of the United States, and United Kingdom, and China and Russia, and all [Page 42] of the other United Nations, primarily in safeguarding the world from future aggression.

And I think I ought to make it clear—I think you should all make it clear—that these conversations are exploratory. The object of them was not to reach final decisions, which are of course impossible at this stage; but to reach a large measure of general agreement on objectives. So as to take time by the forelock, and as a result of these conferences, they will be of great aid in further conferences between all of the United Nations.

I also want to make it very clear that these conferences are by no means confined to the United Kingdom and the United States. They are merely one small part of the long series of conferences between the other United Nations.

We have talked, for example, rather intimately about these various subjects with China and with one or two of the South American Republics. Mr. Eden himself has been to Russia and talked in regard to many of these problems with Mr. Stalin, Mr. Molotov and other members of the Russian government.

I hope and expect that we will be continuing discussions along these lines with the Russian government in the very near future, and with other members of the United Nations. And therefore, these are—you might put it this way—these conversations constitute one method of working toward the unity of the United Nations, which is going along extremely well.

Some people ought to take note of that.

And the other method, of course, is through the more formal gathering, such as we will have next month with the United Nations, in regard to the subject of food, to be followed a little later by a similar one in regard to relief; and possibly a little later by another exploratory conference in regard to finances; and possibly another one in regard to things out of the ground. The food thing will probably include things that grow out of the ground, and the other conference would refer to things that come out from under the surface—minerals, metals, oil, and so forth.

So you see, the thing is progressing in a very satisfactory way.

If some of you go back—some of you can, like myself, go back to 1918, the war came to a rather sudden end in November, 1918. And actually it’s a fact that there had been very little work done on the post-war problems before Armistice Day. Well, between Armistice Day and the time that the nations met in Paris early in 1919, everybody was rushing around trying to dig up things.

And the simile I used to Mr. Eden the other day was that—the tempo then seemed to be that of the lady who is told at noon that she is to accompany her husband on a month’s trip on the three o’clock [Page 43] train that afternoon. Well, I have seen ladies trying to pack for a month’s trip in three hours. That was a little bit the situation over here, and everywhere else, in making preparations for the Versailles conference. Everybody was rushing around grabbing things out of closets and throwing them into suitcases. Some were not needed at all, and some needed things were left behind.

I have forgotten how many experts we took to Versailles at that time, but everybody who had a ‘happy thought’, or who thought he was an expert, got a free ride. (laughter)

And that is why I think that this whole method that is going on now is a very valuable thing, in an exploratory way; and incidentally, as I remarked the other day, in the process of getting to know each other.

I would put it—if you want to be didactic and put it in terms of figures, I would say that so far in all of the conferences that we have held with other members of the United Nations—this is not just the British—they come into it too—that we are about 95 percent together. Well, that’s an amazing statement. It happens to be true. I wish some people would put that in their pipes and smoke it. (laughter)

So it was a very good conference.”

  1. Transmitted by President Roosevelt to Mr. Anthony Eden, through the British Embassy, March 30; copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.