No. 381 NAI DFA 26/95

Letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(X.12/27) (Confidential) (Dictated)

Geneva, 14 June 1930

A Chara,

re Saorstát and Council

At a dinner last night in connection with the International Labour Conference, I took an opportunity of having a conversation with Prince Varnvaidya, Minister of Siam at London and principal delegate to the League of Nations. You will recall that in a memorandum sent to me on the 22nd May,1 it was stated that the Minister of Siam at Paris had promised his personal support to Count O'Kelly. The position about Siam is that they will support China in her efforts to establish re-eligibility. If that is successful they will vote for China. Prince Varnvaidya says that he works to a great extent with the South American States (like others he is influenced by the voting power of that bloc). He will, therefore, support the South American candidate also, and last September, he promised to vote for the Scandinavian candidate. If, therefore, China is a candidate, the Siamese vote will go to China, Norway and the South American State. If, however, China is defeated on the re-eligibility vote, one of the three votes will be given to Ireland. The Prince was very frank and personally well disposed. He said that he regretted very much that China had determined to go forward. It was his intention that when Persia retired from the Council in 1931 Siam would be a candidate. Nevertheless, if China was not elected this year and would be a candidate next year, she would retire in favour of China. While the violent revolutionary conditions obtained in China, he thought they were foolish to claim a Council seat, but the Chinese Government was making it a question of prestige. China they envisaged as a great Power, with a proper claim to a Permanent Seat. It is the Spanish trouble over again.2

Dr. Woo-Kaiseng, the Permanent Chinese delegate here, had brought Prince Varnvaidya to luncheon yesterday and had discussed the situation with him, but at the end of our conversation the Prince said he would find an opportunity to press again the undesirability of China taking the risk of what seems to him almost a certain defeat this year. He felt quite confident that China would not gain the votes of a sufficient number of small States to establish re-eligibility, as the smaller States were generally opposed to that practice.

A thing I emphasised again and again was how much the Government regretted that there should be any sense of rivalry between Ireland and the Eastern States, as we felt such a profound sympathy with their aspirations. Whatever happens in connection with the forthcoming election, that sympathy would remain.

At the opening of the conversation Prince Varnvaidya asked me if we had reached any agreement with Australia. I told him that the Australian Government do not intend to be a candidate. He expressed satisfaction with this, and said that if there had been any contest between us he would have voted for Ireland, as the Irish delegates have done so much more in connection with the League than Australia has.

I imagine that, in connection with the League, Siamese action is decided virtually by Prince Varnvaidya's recommendations.

I am sending a copy of this letter to the High Commissioner at London, as Mr. Smiddy will probably meet the Siamese Minister from time to time.

Seán Lester

P.S. With regard to my report of the 12th.3 Concerning the rumoured visit of Sir Eric Drummond to Ireland, M. Sokal, in a subsequent conversation modified the first impression he had given me as to the definiteness of Sir Eric's denial. Sir Eric's remarks were precisely as I reported, and there was no direct denial of his intention to go to Ireland.

1 Not printed.

2 In 1926 Spain sought a permanent seat on the Council of the League of Nations. On not being granted the seat Spain temporarily left the League.

3 Not printed.

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