13 FEBRUARY 1909, Page 1

Important correspondence on the Congo question which has passed between

the Belgian Minister in Washington and Mr. Root is published in the Times of Tuesday. Mr. Root expresses himself in the same sense as Sir Edward Grey, but even more plainly. He evidently doubts whether the annexation of the Congo Free State by the Belgian Govern- ment will produce any change in the economic conditions. He therefore demands " very substantial, if not radical, changes." He points out that the payment of taxes by forced labour has reduced the natives in many districts to " a condition closely approximating actual slavery," and that the grant of privileges to the concessionaire companies has rendered nugatory some of the chief provisions of the Declaration of 1884. In dealing with the rights of natives to the ownership of the land, he virtually reproduces the arguments which we summarised last week from the Memorial by Mr. E. D. Morel. He insists that the very nature of the title of Belgium to the Congo State " forbids the destruction of the tribal rights on which it rests without securing to the natives an enjoyment of their land." We await with some anxiety the answer of the Belgian Government to the representations which have been made so clearly by both Britain and the United States.