Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of North and West Coast Affairs (Krieg)


Subject: Destroyer Escorts for Peru

Participants: Ambassador Harold H. Tittmann,1 Lima, Peru
William L. Krieg, Officer in Charge, North & West Coast Affairs

Ambassador Tittmann asked that the following message be transcribed:

“Admiral Saldías reports that he told Ambassador Berckemeyer by telephone this morning that unless Saldías received favorable views with respect to destroyer escorts by tomorrow Friday he will meet President Odria2 Saturday morning and urge that Naval representatives to Foreign Ministers Conference3 not accept and furthermore will recommend withdrawal Peruvian Naval Attaches from Washington. Unless he hears something favorable by tomorrow he will assume that no Naval aid will be forthcoming.

“Saldías feels it will be impossible to keep matter out of newspapers much longer and that whole affair will be known here by Saturday. In view of advanced stage of preparation for taking over destroyer escorts Saldías feels his position vis-à-vis his associates and the public will seem ridiculous.

“Contents of Foreign Minister’s4 call yesterday made known to Saldías especially admonition not to precipitate matter but later stated definitely he will proceed to above mentioned step on Saturday morning.”

Mr. Krieg replied that he was sorry Admiral Saldías was taking such a high-handed attitude. He said that the Department, including Under Secretary Webb,5 Deputy Under Secretary Matthews,6 Mr. Miller and Mr. Warren had all taken a personal interest in this case and that Mr. Miller had gone to the Pentagon to discuss the matter with Admiral Sherman.7 The present situation is that there appear to [Page 1582] be excellent possibilities of a favorable outcome. The Peruvians should realize, Mr. Krieg continued, that this is not a matter which can be settled entirely within the executive branch of the Government and that it is necessary also to consult with certain important Congressional leaders. Very special efforts are being made to contact the necessary Congressmen, but there can be no guarantee that the consultations will be completed by tomorrow. We would consider it most unfortunate if the Peruvian Naval representatives were withdrawn since this Government does not like to negotiate under threat. Premature publicity in Lima might have the effect of disrupting the carefully laid plans which the Department has worked out in conjunction with the Naval authorities. Mr. Krieg therefore urged that Ambassador Tittmann counsel the Peruvians to “keep their shirts on” and not do anything rash at this time.

Ambassador Tittmann said that he was leaving in five minutes to confer with President Odria and would advise against precipitative action. He was particularly alarmed, however, because Admiral Saldías believes Ambassador Berckemeyer is in agreement with his proposed course of action. Ambassador Tittmann therefore suggested that the Department get in touch with Ambassador Berckemeyer at the earliest possible moment and explain to him as frankly as possible the present status of the affair and urge him also to advise his Government against rash measures.8

  1. Harold H. Tittmann, Jr.
  2. Manuel A. Odría.
  3. Reference is to the Fourth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of American States, held at Washington, March 26–April 7, 1951. For documentation on the conference, see pp. 925 ff.
  4. Manuel C. Gallagher.
  5. James E. Webb, Under Secretary of State.
  6. H. Freeman Matthews, Deputy Under Secretary of State.
  7. Adm. Forrest P. Sherman, Chief of Naval Operations and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  8. A memorandum of a telephone conversation between Ambassador Tittmann and Mr. Krieg, dated March 23, 1951, reads in part as follows:

    “Ambassador Tittmann telephoned and stated that the Peruvians are delighted with the information that they now have an excellent chance to obtain 3 destroyer escorts from the United States. He added that the Naval Advisers to the Foreign Ministers Meeting will leave Lima Saturday night and arrive in Washington Sunday in time to attend the opening session on Monday.” (723. 5621/3–2351)