462.00 R 29/97a: Telegram
The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Wallace)
Washington, March 2, 1920—8 p.m.
454. For Rathbone from Department and Davis. R–257. Your 566, February 25, 4 p.m. R–361.
- First. The notice mentioned brings up important issue as by its terms it may include claims such as that of the United States to ships seized in its ports. We have decided the United States must consistently maintain the position outlined in our 420 Feb. 23  R–233 in any contingency which may have relation to the title to [Page 521] those ships. We realize, however, a limitation on the scope of the notice would raise awkward situations in regard to claims of other nations to ships seized in their ports. We therefore approve publication of notice as given but desire you to make written notification to the Reparation Commission that any claims received which have to do with ships seized in American ports should be transmitted to this Government. Such notification may very probably raise the ultimate issue between this and the Allied Governments in reference to title to the ships, but we feel that it will be better to meet the issue now than later. It is assumed merely notice of claim is required before date set.
- Second. Your paragraph 2. Claim has been informally brought to the attention of the State Department based on an agreement entered into before the war between American and German firms to charter certain German ships, charters beginning at termination of the war. If such claims are valid it would appear that they would constitute a legal interest which under paragraph 20 must be given due regard to by the Reparation Commission. The charter parties included some ships under construction and one ship near completion in a port formerly German but now Danish by operation of the treaty. Other similar claims may exist but none have up to this time been officially presented.
- Third. Please notify us when notice officially agreed upon so that we may publish it at once as time for presentation of claims is short. It is possible extension of time limit may have to be requested. We will notify you later as to procedure which will be followed, and also with particular respect to tanker claim.