560.AL/4–549: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

secret

1400. From Willoughby.1 Discussions London Bliss and brief talk Shackle and Holmes indicated both for reasons advanced previously including uncertainty regarding exchange rate, firmly opposed MFN Japan. Possibility but no assurance Foreign Office will over-rule. UK position probably to be decided Cabinet level and may not be ready [Page 664]prior opening Annecy post, at best US position would be supported grudgingly. MFN Japan had not been discussed formally Commonwealth meeting prior my departure London, but Wilgress said he sensed general opposition.

In view negative reaction reported Brussels telegram 471 to Department,2 lukewarmness French, and adverse reaction previously received some other countries, becomes increasingly evident will be difficult if not impossible obtain sufficient support to conclude worthwhile agreement. I continue believe UK support US position prerequisite and favor withdrawing item from agenda if not obtained. If withdrawn believe US should indicate intention raising question later, probably after exchange rate determined.

Will report any further information obtained but seems unlikely general picture will change immediate future. Political factors important or paramount most countries and decision whether support US position will not be decided by technicians Annecy. Difficult appraise whether proposed visit State and NME officials certain European capitals worth while. If UK support not forthcoming visit would be wasted.

On other hand, such mission might be too late to be useful if delayed until we know what UK response will be.

Repeated London for Bliss 247. [Willoughby.]

Caffery
  1. Woodbury Willoughby, Chief of the Division of Commercial Policy, Chairman of the Interdepartmental Trade Agreements Committee, and at this time designated as Chairman of the United States Delegation to the Third Session of the Contracting Parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and of the Tariff Negotiations Meeting, opening at Annecy, France on April 8. Mr. Willoughby, enroute to Annecy, had stopped in London for brief discussions with Embassy and U.K. officials regarding the MFN question as it related to Japan.
  2. March 31, not printed.