File No. 658.119/138

The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State


8014. With reference to my telegram 7977 of December 14, noon.2 Swedish delegates have submitted written statement of what they desire under proposed modus vivendi. This includes:

Release of the steamers Jemtland and Österland and cargoes of maize of 11,000 tons now detained Las Palmas.
Release steamer Sigrid and cargo 3,600 tons phosphate rock now detained in United States.
License to export from the United States 25.000 tons phosphate rock corresponding to three months’ supply which is urgently needed for conversion into fertilizer for next year’s crop.
Three months’ supply of illuminating and fuel oil estimated at 25,000 tons and 6,750 tons, respectively.
Shipping facilities including visitation outside blockade zone and bunkers for 23,000 tons maize and 7,000 tons oil cake owned by Sweden now stored at Buenos Aires.
Permission for Sweden to import 22,000 bags coffee under arrangement already existing with Great Britain in regard to transit to Finland of certain amount of coffee as well as the right to import an additional 50,000 bags.
Release of certain hides, leather, cocoa and dried fruit now detained at Copenhagen and Christiania.
Permission to secure from Switzerland certain amount of cork bricks for refrigerating purposes which Sweden has purchased in Switzerland.

Tonnage subcommittee referred to in my 7977 had preliminary meeting to-day, Swedish delegates agreeing to recommend to their [Page 1092] Government in return for acceptance by Allies of eight proposals above referred to—

To permit Swedish shipowners to charter their vessel’s to Belgian Relief Committee without imposing any conditions.
To grant licenses for all Swedish ships now idle in Allied European ports to be chartered to the Inter-Allied Chartering Executive for three months for employment in the war zone.
To grant licenses for all Swedish ships idle in American ports for a period of four months for employment in Allied interests outside of European waters.
To permit all Swedish ships now engaged in trades of interest to the Allies to continue such trades, list of these ships to be agreed upon; this list to include besides ships on time-charter to the Allies’ vessels now trading contiguous Allied ports overseas and between Sweden and Allied European countries as well as vessels now chartered to Belgian Relief Commission.
Swedish Government to grant licenses Swedish ships now idle in Swedish ports to resume trading with [Allies?] voyage by voyage upon conclusion of general agreement and not to obstruct direct negotiations between Allies and Swedish shipowners for this purpose, provided—
That Swedish Government is satisfied in each case that vessel is not actually required for service of Sweden.
Formal assurance on behalf of Allied and United States Governments to be given in each case that every facility, including sufficient bunker coals, examination outside of danger zone, et cetera, will be allowed to enable such vessels to return to a Swedish port (in ballast if necessary) on completion of voyage for which chartered and that no conditions will be exacted with regard to future employment or movements of vessels but that no cargo of any description will be loaded on these vessels without previous approval of Allied Government concerned.
That eight points mentioned in Swedish modus vivendi can not be carried out by Allies if vessels referred to in first four clauses mentioned above actually enter upon services described.

Considerable importance is attached to the admission in principle by the Swedish delegates that Swedish Government will not obstruct direct negotiations between Allies and Swedish shipowners. This has been the bone of contention in the past, the Government having declined to permit Swedish shipowners to deal directly with Allied Governments except in the case of direct voyages to or from Sweden.

In regard to point 5 of the proposed Swedish modus vivendi, the Swedish delegates point out that unless fodder is obtained they will [Page 1093] be absolutely unable to maintain present cattle supplies even on greatly reduced rations and that the necessary result will be slaughter and exportation to Germany as there are no storage facilities in Sweden.

I should like to have as soon as possible an expression of opinion on all of the above points and this communication should emphasize the importance of the early termination of the present negotiations as the Swedish Parliament convenes on January 15 and unless the present Government is able to show some definite progress toward securing necessary imports they will be seriously attacked by their political opponents and the German element and according to our information may be face to face with a very grave situation.

The Embassy submitted to the Allied delegates substitute comments and suggested counter-proposals to Swedish modus vivendi, which are too lengthy to telegraph, but as a result of which there has already been elicited from the Swedes 4 recognition of the doctrine of similar products, etc., and of the principle of control satisfactory to all concerned. The suggested counter-proposals to each clause of the Swedish modus vivendi were formulated upon the theory that negotiations for the final agreement could not last over a month and that therefore a month’s supply of fodder be granted rather than the total amount asked for and upon the principle of a quid pro quo of tonnage for each concession. Mo views [In view] however of the unexpected Swedish disposition to allocate their tonnage en bloc, the plan of hastening each individual concession against an equivalent amount of tonnage may well be abandoned for the present.

  1. Ante, p. 1086.