The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Forrestal)


My Dear Mr. Secretary: I refer to your letter of January 21, 1948 and my reply of February 3, 1948, concerning the possibility of introducing at the Ninth International Conference of American States a resolution concerning the extension of reciprocal rights of transit and technical stop and naval anchorage at military and naval bases in the American republics.

Upon further consideration of the factors mentioned in my letter of February 3, the Department of State has concluded that it would be unwise for the American Delegation to propose any resolution on the subject of bases at the Bogotá Conference. It is our judgment that there would be little chance of the adoption of a resolution on bases at the Conference that would be satisfactory to this Government, and the rejection of a resolution advanced by our delegation would impair efforts that we might wish to make later on to obtain rights of importance to the United States in other American republics.

Moreover, it is felt that injection of an issue touching upon so many political tensions would adversely affect the success of the entire Conference from the viewpoint of the United States. It is, of course, of prime importance to this Government that the Bogotá Conference terminate successfully and constitute a further step in the cementing of inter-American relations at this difficult stage of world affairs. I am confident that you will agree that achievement of this basic objective must not be jeopardized.

This Department stands ready to consider opening bilateral negotiations for specific rights for the use of operational facilities in other American republics whenever the Defense Establishment believes that such a move is desirable. Moreover, in view of the action already taken [Page 212] in the Inter-American Defense Board, it is believed that this Government can continue to build the foundation for an adequate inter-American base system through further action by the Board or the Inter-American Defense Council which will succeed it.

Faithfully yours,

G. C. Marshall