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

No. 1173

Sir: Reference is made to the Department’s airgram no. A–600, April 2, 1943, and the Embassy’s telegram no. 616, April 7, 1943 concerning alterations in the text of the bill of sale covering the purchase of the former Italian vessels Anteo and Rapallo.

Although it was originally believed it would be possible to telegraph you regarding the revisions considered necessary, it has been decided it would be more helpful to you to receive the letter from the War Shipping Administration92 with the suggested draft indicating the desired changes.

The changes made in the first and second paragraphs are, of course, obvious and require no comment.

In paragraph 3 you will note that the bill of sale has been changed in such manner that both parties rather than the War Shipping Administration [Page 40] alone declare that claims, et cetera up to the amount of $1,500,000 would be for the account of the Federación or of the Government of Colombia. This is considered logical and it is presumed should meet with no objection. You will note also that a new provision has been added providing definitely for the holding of the purchase price for the payment of such claims and providing that claims, other than those previously listed in the bill of sale shall not be admitted or paid except upon the basis of the court judgment or in such other manner as may be satisfactory to the two governments. It appears to the Department that the reasons for these changes and additions given in the War Shipping Administration letter are sound and reasonable and that some such provisions are necessary to adequately protect the interests of this Government.

It will not be necessary to raise specifically the question of furnishing photostatic copies of documents. However it should be pointed out to the appropriate Colombian officials that it is considered essential that the War Shipping Administration be kept fully informed as to all debts paid and all claims filed in connection with the two vessels in view of its liability for all claims over the purchase price.

In regard to the change in paragraph 4, this has been suggested purely because the administrative handling of such payments practically makes impossible the completion of the action within five days. The War Shipping Administration is reluctant to commit itself to a step which could be embarrassing through non-fulfillment because of unavoidable procedure with Government payments.

The change made in paragraph 6 is highly desirable since the statement that the ships were in “the best of condition”, et cetera could not have been factually accurate. If not revised it leaves an opening for possible increased liability later which, it is felt sure, the Colombian Government as well as this Government would wish to avoid.

While no change has been made in paragraphs, it is desired to call your attention to the comment of the War Shipping Administration and ask that you bring it to the attention of the appropriate Colombian authorities.

With regard to paragraphs, which has been added by the War Shipping Administration, the Department understands this may not be possible because it would appear that the Federación cannot obligate the Government of Colombia. Therefore, if this article is not to be included an exchange of notes with the Colombian Government along the same lines might be the solution. While the present contract is between the War Shipping Administration and the Federación, the Department is of the opinion that the Colombian Government itself has some responsibilities and obligations since the negotiations were carried out in the manner directed by it.

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It will be noted that the War Shipping Administration has in its letter of April 6 in the second paragraph on page 3 indicated its readiness to defer to the Department’s opinion if political considerations warrant. The Department would prefer, however, to await the results of your approach to the appropriate Colombian officials before assuming responsibility for the waiving of the safeguards in the bill of sale which the War Shipping Administration considers essential. Please inform the Department by telegram of the decision concerning the proposed changes.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Breckinridge Long
  1. Dated April 6, not printed.