841.796/2–746: Telegram

The Chairman of the United States Delegation (Baker) to the Secretary of State

us urgent

To Clayton. British delegation received instructions from London today to present US delegation with additional restrictive clause on Fifth Freedom traffic.47 They did so, and American delegation strongly opposed it as presented. I believe British delegation here are not strongly in favor of the London proposal and that we can work something out satisfactorily (Halifax should not be told the American reaction on this point—as yet). British Cabinet will be considering over-all policy of final act, transport agreement, and bases agreement Thursday.48 I believe Self hopes for general approval of final act and transport agreement by tomorrow night. Halifax has been asked by London to see you on bases agreement, which is, in several respects, distasteful to London. My understanding is that he will request that a clause in the final act which states UK will use its good offices with Newfoundland and Canadian Governments to get agreements on bases there should be dropped from final act, and that we should depend on oral assurances. There is no objection here [Page 1473] to dropping it. He will also express dissatisfaction with part of agreement (accepted by British here) dealing with military and colonial supplies on bases. British here do not know just what Halifax proposition on this question will be, but Self and I both hope that this question can be left completely out of this bases agreement and arrangement made for further study on this one difficult point. All the rest of the bases agreement, on which an enormous amount of work has been expended, should certainly not be allowed to go uninitialled because of this one difficulty. Mr. Bigg, here from the Colonial Office, has apparently disagreed with Self on many bases matter, and has apparently been writing his own strong dissents to London. I believe this conflict accounts primarily for Halifax being brought into the bases picture at this time. I believe Self hopes for signing and initialling of documents by Sunday night.

  1. This refers to the “change of gauge” proposal included in Lord Halifax’s aide-mémoire of February 6; see Department’s telegram of February 6, 8 p.m., to Hamilton, under heading of “Annex”, p. 1470.
  2. February 7.