Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. James H. Webb of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs

Participants: Señor Mario Rodríguez, Minister Counselor of Chilean Embassy
Mr. Bechhoefer—IS
Mr. H. B. Wells—OA
Mr. Mills—NWC
Mr. Webb—NWC

Mr. Mills explained to Mr. Rodríguez that, although it was not a formal request, the Chilean Embassy in its note No. 2586/294 of [Page 517] December 11, 1947,24 had asked for the Department’s comments on press statements made by the Chilean Foreign Office in connection with the refusal of the Soviet Government to permit the departure of the Russian wife of the son of the former Chilean Ambassador to the USSR. The object in inviting him to call at the Department was to discuss informally means the Chilean Government might employ to bring the question before some form of international arbitration.

Mr. Bechhoefer pointed out that the case might, in his opinion, very well fall within the consideration of the General Assembly under Article 14 as a “situation, regardless of origin, which it deems likely to impair the general welfare or friendly relations among nations.” On the other hand, Mr. Bechhoefer did not consider it appropriate for presentation to the Interim Committee because it does not require preliminary study, one of the conditions requisite to consideration by that body. Refusal by the Interim Committee to consider the case on whatever grounds, however technical, might react unfavorably to the Chilean cause. Non-representation of the USSR on the Interim Committee, precluding a chance to state its side of the question, would in Mr. Bechhoefer’s opinion further weaken the Chilean position.

Mr. Rodríguez said that while he had not heard that presentation to the Interim Committee was under consideration, he was glad to have Mr. Bechhoefer’s opinion. It was explained to Mr. Rodríguez that the Interim Committee had been mentioned informally in conversations between the Foreign Office and Ambassador Bowers.

In the opinion of all present the question might appropriately be taken to the Court of International Justice. Although the Russians no doubt would refuse to recognize the validity of the case and would also refuse to accept the Court’s decision if unfavorable to them, this refusal itself would strengthen the Chilean position if the case later is taken before the United Nations General Assembly.

The Human Rights Committee was mentioned as a third means of bringing the case to arbitration. While this was considered a possibility and worth further investigation, Mr. Wells felt that the case was more important, involving political (i.e. diplomatic) in addition to human rights.

Mr. Rodríguez showed Mr. Mills a telegram the Chilean Embassy had received from the Foreign Office proposing the following steps:

Another effort by the Argentine Embassy in Moscow, acting in behalf of the Chilean Government, to obtain the release of the daughter-in-law and her son;
If this fails, a demand by the Argentine Embassy that the case be referred to arbitration;
If this fails, the direct request by Chile to the Court for arbitration by the International Court;
A joint approach by the representatives of those American countries having diplomatic representation at Moscow.

The telegram also stated that any suggestions the Department might have would be appreciated.

Mr. Rodríguez was told, in reply to a question as to the probable US attitude toward step No. (4), that it would be impossible to give even an informal opinion on that point until it had been given further study. Otherwise, the program as outlined by the Chilean Foreign Office appeared sound.25

  1. Not printed.
  2. In airgram A–423, August 31, 1948, the American Chargé in Argentina indicated that only then were arrangements being made for the departure for home of the Soviet diplomatic mission to Chile (701.6125/8–3148).