394.31/9–651: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Holmes) to the Secretary of State


1248. Depcirtel 199, Aug 28, and Embtel 1170, Aug 31.1 Brit views re termination GATT relations Czechoslovakia not recd until today.2 Views are firm at official level but have not been approved at ministerial level, due absence Hartley Shawcross,3 who will lead Brit del.

Brit agree Art XXV would be most appropriate article under which to act. On grounds more acceptable CP’s, however, they prefer general principle of alternative B but feel precise phrasing any waiver should be settled at later stage. Also believe it highly important US position should be kept flexible and no firm decision taken re details presentation to CP’s until after thorough canvassing other dels at Geneva. Brit del will cooperate fully with USDel at Geneva in canvassing other dels and will support action finally decided upon provided reasonable assurance that it will be successful.

Brit strongly urge therefore that no official discussion this topic be scheduled until second week of session at earliest. Brit obviously feel very doubtful about chances securing favorable vote on resolution under Art XXV but state they have not had opportunity exchange views other countries. However both Fr and Neth have requested Brit views which FonOff desires transmit very soon. At EmbOff’s request FonOff will not respond Fr and Neth requests until next Mon. Emb would appreciate Dept’s comments to reach us Mon morning at latest. Unless results canvass initiated by Depcirtel 199 sufficiently favorable to justify taking firm decision now re text resolution and details of presentation Geneva, Emb recommends Dept accept Brit suggestions. If outcome doubtful, Brit del influence appears decisive especially in view fact Hartley Shawcross, who is very able negotiator, will attend. FonOff very definite in opinion he wld be unwilling give commitment to support any detailed US proposal until he had talked with other heads of del at Geneva, especially those of Commonwealth and SE Asia.

Brit also suggested preamble to resolution shld be based upon in-compatability Czech policy, both in trade matters and in re general treatment foreign nationals and interest Min Czechoslovakia with objectives [Page 1399] GATT, rather than on strained state relations between US and Czechoslovakia and stated they were considering whether, if there proves to be sufficient body of opinion in Geneva in favor of waiver in one form or another, it wld not be desirable for waiver in more gen terms permitting any contracting party to terminate by declaration its obligations toward Czechoslovakia under GATT. Brit Govt have no preference as between “termination” or “suspension” of obligations but would not like to see suspension of limited duration which would compel CP’s reconsider matter at future session. Fear also expressed that proposed US resolution as presently drafted left way open for other CP’s to attempt to make case for strained relations with CP other than Czechs for purpose avoiding onerous obligations. Brit therefore very much interested in strongest possible preamble.

Re putting case on more general grounds, EmbOff observed this might weaken rather than strengthen position in view fact Czechoslovak relationships with no other CP were as bad as with the US. Suggestion may have some merit nevertheless if framed in way which will permit full exposition Czech actions re US as illustrative rather than unique. Other CP’s could thus use waiver if relations with Czech deteriorated to same extent US-Czech relations.

Sent Dept 1248, rptd info Geneva unn for USDel GATT.4

  1. London telegram 1170, August 31, 4 p.m., not printed. (394.31/8–3151)
  2. In its despatch 1235, September 6, the London Embassy informed the Department that the contents of this telegram (No. 1248) were based on an aide-mémoire received from the Foreign Office on September 6 and on oral discussion with Eric Berthoud, Assistant Under-Secretary in the Foreign Office, Peter Mennell of the Economic Relations staff at the Foreign Office, and John Leckie, Under-Secretary at the Board of Trade. (394.31/9–651)
  3. Sir Hartley William Shawcross, President of the Board of Trade.
  4. An advance party of the United States Delegation to the Sixth Session of the Contracting Parties to GATT had arrived in Geneva. See footnote 1, p. 1410.