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

Mr. Michael Wright came in to see me in connection with the method of handling the proposed air negotiations. I handed him a copy of the memorandum34 as agreed upon yesterday, the principle of which was approved by the Policy Committee this morning.

I said that we had endeavored to meet, sympathetically, the British desire to have the Dominions join with them in the discussions. This seemed extremely difficult in view of the fact that other countries, both South American and European, would have an equal right to join; and that joint conversations with such a large group would be wholly unmanageable. Hence we had suggested the device of independent bilateral conversations, but held at the same time, conducted between the United States, the U.K., Canada, Soviet Russia (if she cared to join), Brazil, and China.

We would likewise invite the other three Dominions, and a list of other countries, which we hoped to make as small as possible; these would arrive and conversations be undertaken with them, substantially without a break, after the main conversations had reached a conclusion, or at least a point permitting further exploration.

Mr. Wright said he thought this was an ingenious solution and he personally hoped matters could go forward on this basis. He said he would endeavor to expedite a prompt reply from the Foreign Office.

I said that in dealing with the United Kingdom we assumed that the U.K. would represent all British interests other than those of the self-governing Dominions; Mr. Wright said that that was their understanding likewise.

Mr. Wright inquired what nations we thought of adding to the short select list. I said this was still under review; our tentative ideas ran along the line of the Netherlands, Belgium, the French National Committee (if a way could be found to handle it), and Mexico.

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I pointed out that we had assumed that the phrase “full international conference” used in their note meant a United Nations Conference; Mr. Wright said he so understood it. I added that if for any reason it should be necessary to add in certain selected neutrals—possibly Portugal—we could discuss that later.

I noted that the memorandum indicated that we were sending an invitation to Brazil. I said we did not actually plan to do this until we had heard from London, which we hoped would happen in the very near future.

A. A. B[erle], Jr.
  1. Infra.