Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Chief of the Division of Northern European Affairs (Hulley)

Participants: Mr. Hadow, Counselor, British Embassy
Mr. Benjamin M. Hulley, Acting Chief, NOE
Mr. Caspar D. Green, NOE

Mr. Hadow, Counselor of the British Embassy, called on Mr. Hulley this morning to discuss the annexed letter and aide-mémoire.1

He confirmed that the notes mentioned in his letter of December 10 [9]2 were delivered to the Argentine and Chilean Governments, probably on December 16 or 17.

The reasons for the additional protest to Argentina are fully set forth in his letter and aide-mémoire dated December 22, 1947. Briefly this protest is evoked by new evidence of relatively large-scale Argentine activity, apparently part of a long-term project, in an area where Britain feels its claims are most firmly grounded. Instructions are telegraphed to the British mission in Buenos Aires to present the protest, and it has already been presented, unless the Ambassador there took the initiative in postponing action because of the status of the current British-Argentine trade negotiations.

In response to an inquiry as to what he expected would be the Argentine and Chilean reaction to these protests, Mr. Hadow emphasized strongly the view that this depends on the American attitude: If the Latin Americans were allowed to feel that they could look for United States backing for their position, they could be expected to ignore the protest and the suggested manner of settlement. Otherwise it would be difficult for them to overlook their UN obligation to accept the proposed submission of the dispute to the International Court.

Mr. Hulley remarked that the proposed court settlement would only be a partial settlement of the Antarctic territorial problem and that we regretted to see the issue sharpened before an overall settlement can be proposed.

Turning to more general aspects of the problem, Mr. Hadow spoke-very earnestly of the need for Anglo-American cooperation. He said in his view the importance of Antarctica is strategic—which means that it is valuable to two nations alone: Britain and the United States. [Page 1061] He referred to the importance to the United States of the Drake Straits if the Panama Canal were out of service. He said he hoped that we could let the British in very early on our thinking and plans for an Antarctic settlement, which could then be worked out in cooperation. He felt that it would be a serious error on our part to present the British with a completed plan which they would then have to take or leave. With regard to a UN trusteeship arrangement, he again stressed the difficulty of excluding the Soviet Union from a share in the control and operation of a multilateral trusteeship.

There is considerable merit in Mr. Hadow’s suggestion that we should let the British in early on our ideas and plans for an Antarctic settlement so that we can work out the actual program in cooperation, rather than presenting them with a completed project which they must then accept or reject substantially. We should seriously consider giving them informally either our policy memorandum on the subject, with slight modifications, or a summary outline of it as soon as preliminary reactions are received from the other Departments of the US Government. This might suitably be done before any approach is made to Argentina, Chile or the other claimant countries, as British acceptance of any final proposal made by us will be the key factor in its workability. The position which the Briish have now taken vis-à-vis Argentina and Chile is in line with our secondary position, i.e., the presentation of claims and the submission of the matter to the International Court, in case the more desirable alternative of joint trusteeship control fails to receive the support of the other interested countries,

Benjamin M. Hulley
  1. Neither the letter of December 22 from Hadow to Hulley nor the British Embassy aide-mémoire of the same date has been printed. Both documents had to do with the Instructions of the British Foreign Office to the British Ambassador in Argentina to protest against visits by at least eight Argentine naval vessels to Deception Island in the South Shetland Group, where, despite protests by the Resident British Magistrate, landings had been made and parties established (800.014 Antarctic/12–2247).
  2. See footnote 1 to the Hulley memorandum of December 16, p. 1057.