Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs (Newbegin)


Ambassador Gonzalez Arévalo called this afternoon at my request in order that I might present him personally with the Department’s reply to his confidential memorandum of May 211 suggesting U.S. mediation of the Belize dispute. The Ambassador read the Department’s memorandum in my presence and stated that he understood it perfectly, particularly the suggestion made in the latter portion with regard to making an effort to reduce existing tension. The Ambassador appeared to be well pleased with the Department’s reply.

I informed the Ambassador that in as much as his memorandum had been marked “confidential” the Department had up to now observed its confidential nature. I told him, however, that it would appear desirable to us, provided he had no objection, to now bring his memorandum together with the Department’s reply to the attention of the British, but that we would not, of course, wish to do this without his consent. I suggested that not only would we like to keep the British informed as to what we have done, but since the next step in this procedure would have to be taken by the Guatemalans it might be helpful to them if the British had advance information. The Ambassador [Page 93] said that his memorandum had been marked “confidential” and that he had suggested to his Government that the proposal be kept confidential only to avoid any publicity being given to it. He said that he had no objection to our now bringing it to the attention of the British. He was informed that we would make no recommendation whatsoever to the British as to whether that Government should request mediation. In this respect, our view was the same as it was vis-à-vis the Guatemalan Government to which we were making no suggestion either. It is at perfect liberty to formally request mediation or not if it so desires.

The Ambassador was informed that it would be desirable in any case not to give publicity to the matter in case the British should not wish to request mediation. To do so might only add to the difficulties in reaching a final settlement. In this the Ambassador concurred.

R[obert] N[ewbegin]
  1. Guatemalan memorandum of May 21 not printed.