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Joint Statement Following Meetings With British Prime Minister MacDonald.

October 09, 1929

THE VISIT of the British Prime Minister to President Hoover, which is now terminated, had as its chief purpose the making of personal contacts which will be fruitful in promoting friendly and frank relations between the two countries. Both the President and the Prime Minister are highly gratified by the keen interest which the people of both countries have taken in the meeting, and regard it as proof of the strong desire of both nations to come to closer understanding. The British Prime Minister has been particularly impressed and gratified by the warmth of his welcome and the flood of expressions of good will which have poured upon him.

At the moment of leaving Washington the following joint statement was issued:

"During the last few days we have had an opportunity, in the informal talks in which we have engaged, not only to review the conversations on a naval agreement which have been carried on during this summer between us, but also to discuss some of the more important means by which the moral force of our countries can be exerted for peace.

"We have been guided by the double hope of settling our own [p.320] differences on naval matters and so establishing unclouded good will, candor, and confidence between us, and also of contributing something to the solution of the problem of peace in which all other nations are interested and which calls for their cooperation.

"In signing the Paris Peace Pact fifty-six nations have declared that war shall not be used as an instrument of national policy. We have agreed that all disputes shall be settled by pacific means. Both our Governments resolve to accept the Peace Pact not only as a declaration of good intentions but as a positive obligation to direct national policy in accordance with its pledge.

"The part of each of our governments in the promotion of world peace will be different, as one will never consent to become entangled in European diplomacy and the other is resolved to pursue a policy of active cooperation with its European neighbours; but each of our governments will direct its thoughts and influence towards securing and maintaining the peace of the world.

"Our conversations have been largely confined to the mutual relations of the two countries in the light of the situation created by the signing of the Peace Pact. Therefore, in a new and reinforced sense the two governments not only declare that war between them is unthinkable, but that distrusts and suspicions arising from doubts and fears which may have been justified before the Peace Pact must now cease to influence national policy. We approach old historical problems from a new angle and in a new atmosphere. On the assumption that war between us is banished, and that conflicts between our military or naval forces cannot take place, these problems have changed their meaning and character, and their solution, in ways satisfactory to both countries, has become possible.

"We have agreed that those questions should become the subject of active consideration between us. They involve important technical matters requiring detailed study. One of the hopeful results of the visit which is now terminating officially has been that our two Governments will begin conversations upon them following the same method as that which has been pursued during the summer in London.

"The exchange of views on naval reduction has brought the two nations so close to agreement that the obstacles in previous conferences arising out of Anglo-American disagreements seem now substantially removed. We have kept the nations which took part in the Washington Naval Conference of 1922 informed of the progress of our conversations, and we have now proposed to them that we should all meet together and try to come to a common agreement which would justify each in making substantial naval reductions. An agreement on naval armaments cannot be completed without the cooperation of other naval powers, and both of us feel sure that, by the same free and candid discussion of needs which has characterized our conversations, such mutual understandings will be reached as will make naval agreement next January possible, and thus remove this serious obstacle to the progress of world disarmament.

"Between now and the meeting of the proposed conference in January, our Governments will continue conversations with the other powers concerned, in order to remove as many difficulties as possible before the official and formal negotiations open.

"In view of the security afforded by the Peace Pact, we have been able to end, we trust for ever, all competitive building between ourselves with the risk of war and the waste of public money involved, by agreeing to a parity of fleets, category by category.

"Success at the coming conference will result in a large decrease in the naval equipment Of the world and, what is equally important, the reduction of prospective programs of construction which would otherwise produce competitive building to an indefinite amount.

"We hope and believe that the steps we have taken will be warmly welcomed by the people whom we represent as a substantial contribution to the efforts universally made by all nations to gain security for peace--not by military organization--but by peaceful means rooted in public opinion and enforced by a sense of justice in the civilized world."

Note: On October 7, after discussions between the President and Prime Minister MacDonald at the Rapidan camp, invitations were sent by the British Government to the Governments of France, Italy, and Japan proposing that they join Great Britain and the United States in a naval conference in London in January 1930.

Herbert Hoover, Joint Statement Following Meetings With British Prime Minister MacDonald. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207648

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