File No. 657.119/93
The Minister in Norway ( Schmedeman) to the Secretary of State
[Received October 18, 4.05 a.m.]
346. My telegram No. 341, October 14, 2 p.m.1 I was not able to see the Minister for Foreign Affairs until to-day. He volunteered no information on the subject of his Government’s attitude with regard to American exports until I broached the subject. I mentioned that the French Minister had spoken to me as reported in my telegram 341. Minister for Foreign Affairs said he had called French Minister because of receipt of a telegram from Norwegian Minister to France reporting that in his opinion the time had come when the question of Norwegian imports might profitably be discussed with the Allies. Minister of Foreign Affairs continued in the sense of my 341, substantially confirming French Minister’s statement. I inquired whether Minister for Foreign Affairs had a proposal to make and received a negative reply. He said that Norwegian Government was merely ready to discuss the question and suggested that it might be discussed either here or at Paris or London or at Washington by Norwegian commissioners who have received instructions. I asked him what was meant by reduction in exports to Germany which he had stated Norwegian Government was prepared to make. This he stated would be the subject of discussion; I did not suggest total embargo against Germany but am [Page 1053]inclined to think that Minister for Foreign Affairs realized our demand was likely to involve it although it may be natural for him not to have given any intimation of this realization.
My general impression, as suggested in my cipher telegram 339, October 11, 2 p.m.,1 is that this Government is not yet committed to outright acceptance of the conditions it is assumed that the United States will lay down. It appears to be waiting to be approached by us. Obviously our position would be stronger if we wait until Norwegian Government comes to us with proposals of some sort; it might do so soon considering increasing exhaustion of stocks here. But on the other hand the question may be settled more quickly if we take an early opportunity to state our terms and of course we must consider Swedish pressure. In any case total embargo against the enemy must be guiding principle of our policy towards Norway.
I understand that for some time past trade relations between Norway and the United States have been a subject of regular discussion between the Foreign Minister and the German Minister at every conference between them. While the Minister for Foreign Affairs still speaks of impossibility of total elimination of all exports to the enemy on account of danger of retaliation, it seems to be growing clearer that his expression of fear on that score is becoming less sincere. The logic of the situation would also seem to point away from the probability of such danger since it is apparently realized that German retaliation on Norway would improve the naval situation of the Allies who are thought here not to be averse to such an eventuality.
What attitude does the Department desire this Legation to take?