Memorandum to President Truman by the Assistant Secretary of State for Transport and Communications Affairs (Norton)

Ambassador Messersmith has just cabled that he has had unexpected success through direct action by President Perón in setting the stage for an Air Transport Agreement on the principles established and [Page 242] maintained by the United States since Bermuda. This apparently amounts to a reversal of the previous Argentine policy which prevented conclusion of an agreement with an Argentine delegation sent to Washington last fall. President Perón is anxious that agreement be reached before the Montreal Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization beginning early in May. Ambassador Messersmith urges that Mr. Landis be sent as head of the delegation.

I not only strongly concur with the Ambassador’s request for the services of Mr. Landis but feel that he should go as your Personal Representative and with the personal rank of Minister. The consummation of such an Air Transport Agreement with the Argentines would break the present log jam in Latin America as the Bermuda Agreement did in Europe and the Near East. I believe that following the signing of such an agreement, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico would almost certainly fall in line. Mr. Landis’ services would not be required except at Buenos Aires. It might then be possible to sign a number of these countries before the Montreal Assembly, in which event our pattern of bilateral agreements along Bermuda lines would be of such an extensive nature and would be so greatly strengthened that many of the difficult problems involved in the multilateral approach now under consideration at Montreal would be solved.

I would, therefore, greatly appreciate it if you would urge Mr. Landis to accept the leadership of this very important mission. We would, of course, staff him with representatives of the Department and would make all arrangements for immediate departure.