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WASHINGTON, August 25,1941-5-7 p. m.
3375, 3376 and 3377. The press in London and here seems uncertain about the meaning of the words "with due respect for their existing obligations" in the fourth point of the Roosevelt-Churchill joint statement of August 14. One interpretation is that these words mean that the Ottawa agreements and the American tariff are to remain untouched.
It is obvious that this uncertainty and such an interpretation should not be permitted to stand. Indeed, unless the right sort of official interpretation is immediately given wide publicity, the whole purpose, especially of this portion of the joint statement itself may be defeated. Actual and potential victims of the Axis powers will not take hope and do their utmost to resist aggression by joining forces with the United States the United Kingdom and other like-minded nations if they gain the impression that the basic fourth point of the joint declaration is in reality an empty promise by reason of the insertion of the words quoted above.
They must be assured and be kept assured that the fourth point holds out to all people a real prospect that defeat of the Axis will mean a post-war world in which all countries will not only have equal access to raw materials which they need but also, and far more important, that they will be permitted freer access to world markets, including the great markets of the British Empire and the United States, on a basis which will enable them to acquire the necessary purchasing power for needed raw materials and other things they need to import.
The following explanation would, it is believed, meet the requirements of the situation:
"In view of inquiries as to the meaning of the words 'with due respect for their existing obligations' in the fourth point of the Roosevelt-Churchill statement of August 14, it is desirable that the purpose of those words be made clear. Scrupulous regard for international obligations is the cornerstone of the foreign policies of the United States and United Kingdom Governments. They have seen with grave concern the lawless disregard of obligations by certain other governments which has created the present state of international anarchy. The words quoted above show that the two Governments, in carrying out any new policy or in revising old ones, will at all times give scrupulous regard to all international obligations so long as they remain in force.
The fourth point in the statement by the President and Mr. Churchill is a forthright declaration of intention by the British and American
Governments to do everything in their power, now and in the post-war period, by means of the reduction of trade barriers and the reduction or elimination of preferences and discriminations, 'to further the enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity."'
You should take this matter up with the Prime Minister immediately and say that we contemplate issuing the above statement here and express the hope that a similar statement will be issued by the British Government. ;
The President has seen and approved this telegram.