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States has noted with pleasure that the French Government is animated by the same spirit that prompted the President of the United States upon the occasion of his Message to Congress, on the day on which the above-mentioned Memorandum of the American Government was handed to the Governments of the Powers signatory to the Washington Treaty.
With regard to the fear expressed by the French Government that such negotiations would risk compromising the success of the work of the Preparatory Commission at Geneva, the Government of the United States is of the opinion that all appropriate measures taken by the large naval Powers cannot but contribute towards facilitating the task of the Commission.
In the last paragraph of the Memorandum of the French Government the view is set forth that it is at Geneva and by the Preparatory Commission itself that the proposal of the American Government can be effectually examined. The Government of the United States desires to emphasize the fact that it proposed the initiation at Geneva of negotiations by representatives of certain powers at the forthcoming meeting of the Preparatory Commission, and is therefore of the opinion that far from undermining the authority of the League of Nations such conversations as those proposed would be of great service to that body in an advance towards the solution of a difficult problem.
The Governments of Great Britain and Japan have now acceded to the proposal of the American Government which has, therefore, decided to enter into conversations with these powers and sincerely hopes that the French Government will see its way clear to be represented in some manner in these conversations in order that it may be fully cognizant of the course of negotiations and of the agreements which may be reached.
As the French Government already knows, the American Government has no preconceived ideas regarding any definite ratio for the limitation of French tonnage. It does not desire to open up questions already settled by Treaty but wishes to point out that all other questions relative to limitation of naval armament are open and that in the projected conversations each power would have the privilege of taking any position it thought best for its own protection as a basis for negotiation.
The Government of the United States would be especially gratified by the presence of representatives of a nation holding the ideals set forth in the Memorandum of the French Government, a nation which has, in the past, been associated with the United States in efforts to further the cause of World Peace.”
Inform Department promptly when this memorandum is delivered as we wish then to hand copies of the Memorandum to the British and Japanese Ambassadors here.
Repeat text of Memorandum to London and American Mission at Geneva and mail cipher text to Rome.
500.A15 a 1/103a : Telegram
The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Italy (Fletcher)
WASHINGTON, March 12, 1927-4 p. m. 18. Please deliver as soon as possible the following memorandum concerning the proposed conference for the limitation of naval armament to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the same time personally urging Department's point of view:
“With reference to the memorandum of the Italian Government of February 21, 1927, in reply to that of the American Government, of February 10, inquiring whether the Italian Government was disposed to empower its representatives at the forthcoming meeting at Geneva of the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference to enter into negotiations looking toward an agreement providing for limitation in the classes of naval vessels not covered by the Treaty of Washington of 1922, the Government of the United States has noted with pleasure that the Italian Government is animated by the same spirit that prompted the President of the United States upon the occasion of his Message to Congress, on the day on which the above-mentioned Memorandum of the American Government was handed to the Governments of the Powers signatory to the Washington Treaty.
With regard to the assertion of the Italian Government that there exists an interdependence of every type of armament, the American Government is nevertheless of the opinion that all appropriate measures taken by the large naval Powers in limitation of the naval branch of armament must greatly contribute in advancing the solution of the problem as a whole.
As for the statement in the Memorandum of the Italian Government that owing to geographical position and strategic considerations Italy could not expose itself without grave risks to a binding limitation of its maritime armaments, it is feared that there may exist some misapprehension regarding the terms of the proposal of the President of the United States. The American Government has no preconceived ideas regarding any definite ratio for the limitation of Italian tonnage in the classes referred to, but regards this question as one to be determined during the proposed conversations. While the American Government does not desire to open up questions already settled by treaty all other questions relative to limitation of naval armament are open and each power would have the privilege of taking any position it thought best for its own protection as a basis for negotiation. The American Government is also of the opinion that an agreement for partial limitation of armaments could expose no power to danger from the navies of the powers not included in such an understanding, since no agreement is contemplated which would not be subject to reconsideration or revision should the security of any party to it be menaced by the naval program of a nation not included in the understanding.
The Governments of Great Britain and Japan have now acceded to the proposal of the American Government, which has, therefore, decided to enter into conversations with these powers and sincerely hopes that the Italian Government will see its way clear to be repre
sented in some manner at these conversations, in order that it may be fully cognizant of the course of negotiations and of the agreements which may be reached. The Government of the United States would, moreover, be especially gratified by the presence of the representatives of a nation holding the high ideals set forth in the Memorandum of the Italian Government, a nation which has, in the past, been associated with the United States in efforts to further the cause of World Peace."
Inform Department promptly when this is done as we wish to hand a copy of the Memorandum to the British and Japanese Ambassadors as soon as we know that it has been delivered in Rome.
Repeat text of Memorandum to London and American Mission at Geneva and mail cipher text to Paris.
500.A15 a 1/154 : Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Herrick) to the Secretary of State
PARIS, April 3, 1927—10 a. m.
[Received 12:55 p. m.24] 152. The Foreign Office sent me last evening the following note verbale dated April 2nd:
"By its memorandum March 14th, 1927,25 the American Embassy was good enough to inform the French Government of the decision taken by its Government as a result of the adherence of Great Britain and Japan to the proposals contained in the American memorandum of February 10, last, to engage in conversation with these powers.
On this occasion the American Government expresses the hope that the Government of the Republic 'will see its way clear to be represented in some manner in these conversations in order that it may be fully cognizant of the course of the negotiations and of the agreements which may be reached. It is good enough at the same time to show the paramount value that it would attach to the presence of French delegation.
The American Government specifies on the other hand that it has no preconceived idea as to the formula that it would be proper to consider in regard to a limitation of French naval tonnage and it points out that in the proposed conversations each power will have the privilege of adopting as basis of negotiation the attitude that it judges the best for the defense of its interests.
The French Government pointed out on February 15, in its reply to the first American note, the decisive reasons for which it could not participate in the Conference proposed by the American Government for a new limitation of naval armaments.
It cannot allow either the weakening of the authority of the League of Nations, already invested with the problem of disarmament, in which naval armaments cannot be separated from land and aerial armaments, or injury to the principle of the equality of the powers to which France remains firmly attached, or the exclusion from the discussion of an essential problem of the states without whose collaboration no result can be obtained, or the abandonment of the technical principles on which alone, as the French delegates have had admitted during the preparatory discussions, it is possible to base a general limitation of armaments.
* Telegram in two sections. See telegram No. 72, Mar. 12, 4 p. m., to the Ambassador in France, p. 28.
In spite of the assurances that the American Government is good enough to give [of the thought and care] which have inspired its initiative and as to the principles by which it intends to be guided, the Government of the Republic cannot see its way to modify its views towards the proposal which has been put before it. It persists in thinking that a positive participation of France in the proposed conference between the United States, Great Britain and Japan, cannot be considered.
Since the delivery of the American memorandum a new element, which imposes itself on us, has intervened: The Preparatory Commission of the Disarmament Conference has met at Geneva. From the beginning the French delegation has affirmed its thesis and presented a draft convention based on the principle of global disarmament. A large part of the Commission has shown itself favorable to it and the debates which have ensued permit of thinking that it will be largely taken into consideration in the conclusions of the Commission,
Ever since then the French Government is bound to great reserve as concerns the request of the American Government to be represented in other discussions whose promoters are inspired by entirely different principles. It is for us a question of honesty towards the League of Nations to do nothing which might allow, in the mind of the delegations which have favorably received our proposals, a doubt to arise as to the sincerity of our efforts.
The French Government, appreciative of the value that the American Government attaches to its being directly informed concerning the conversations engaged in between the three powers, preserves the greatest sympathy for the American efforts for disarmament and for peace. It would certainly have liked to be able to decide now as to the cordial invitation which has been sent it. It likes at least to think that the American Government will appreciate the reasons which make it a duty under the present circumstances to defer any decision as to the possible participation, even by a simple observer, in conversations on a limited subject touching on the question of disarmament."
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The British Ambassador (Howard) to the Secretary of State
His Britannic Majesty's Ambassador presents his compliments to the Secretary of State, and with reference to the conversation this morning between Mr. Kellogg and Mr. Chilton of this Embassy, has the honour to state that he is in receipt of information from His Majesty's Government to the effect that it is their understanding that the United States Government originally intended that conversations rather than a formal conference on the subject of naval disarmament should take place at Geneva between the representatives of the Powers who are now taking part in the Disarmament Preparatory Commission in that city, and that, in the event of these conversations proving fruitful of positive results, a formal conference would then take place between duly accredited representatives of the Powers concerned.
Now that any meeting has been postponed until June, however, His Majesty's Government assume that the United States Government have abandoned the proposal to conduct preliminary conversations and that proceedings will from the outset take the form of a regular conference. In this event, His Majesty's Government contemplate asking Mr. Bridgeman, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, and Admiral Field to act as their Plenipotentiaries at the conference.
WASHINGTON, April 6, 1927.
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The Japanese Ambassador (Matsudaira) to the Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, April 6, 1927. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note dated March 11, 1927, in regard to the proposed conversations at Geneva concerning the limitation of naval armament, among the representatives of the United States, Great Britain, and Japan.
It was added that these conversations could most advantageously and conveniently begin at Geneva on the 1st day of June or soon thereafter. In this connection I have just received a telegram from my Government to the effect that the Japanese Delegation will leave Japan about the 24th of this month and are expected to arrive at Geneva by way of the Indian Ocean about the 8th June next.
In these circumstances the Japanese Government would like to have these conversations opened after the 11th of that month. I beg leave therefore to request pursuant to instructions from Tokio that you will be good enough to take steps so that the wishes of my Government in this respect may conveniently be met by all the parties concerned.
I beg to add that the names of the Japanese delegates will be communicated to you as soon as they are officially appointed. Accept [etc.]