810.20 Defense/5–1745

The Ambassador in Peru (White) to the Secretary of State

No. 3312

Sir: In conformity with the Department’s telegraphic instructions No. 452, May 8, 7 p.m.,31 I have the honor to report further on the recent Staff Conferences.

Remarks regarding the discussions

The opening meeting described in my despatch No. 2864 of May 2031 was the only one which I attended, and subsequently thereto my information was that obtained from some of the American officers who assisted. This was in general to the effect that the discussions were proceeding smoothly and fairly rapidly and that the Peruvians displayed, on the whole, a very reasonable attitude.

The Aviation conversations were apparently the least precise and longest drawn out. The specifications for these had been drawn up by our War Department but it was the Marine Mission which was principally responsible for carrying on these negotiations, although some Military Aviation Officers assisted in the discussions as observers. Apparently the Marine Mission did not learn till quite late of the detailed data required.

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Possible limit of State Department’s interest

There has since arrived a series of folders, some 36 in number, giving an account of the discussions. Most of these are of a highly technical nature and scarcely tempt civilian curiosity; moreover, in view of the very secret nature of the contents it would be fairer to the Peruvians to avoid any but the most unavoidable dissemination of the data contained therein as to the strength, location, etc., of forces.

It is specifically stated (Folder 2, page 3, heading E) that no subjects of a diplomatic or political nature were developed during the conversations. Therefore, from the Department’s point of view, it would seem that once it is assured that the conversations and projects connected therewith do not run counter to our general Latin American objectives, the important point for its information is that of ways and means—in other words, what will the projects cost, and to what extent is this cost compatible with available Peruvian resources—to say nothing of the ultimate interest of the American taxpayer. As doubtless the Department fully appreciates, the general objectives of the Conference seem entirely praiseworthy and desirable.

Conversations not binding and exploratory

Before entering upon the question of costs in greater detail, I will refer to certain other aspects developed in the course of the discussions.

In the first place, though quite understood beforehand, it might be well to repeat Admiral Kingman’s remarks at the opening Naval meeting on March 20 (Folder 28) to the effect that the results of the exploratory conversations are not binding on either Peru or the United States and merely form the basis of a report to Washington, and also that these conversations related specifically to the post-war period.

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If the Department desires further information, I shall be glad to try to obtain the same.

Respectfully yours,

J. C. White
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.