File No. 861.00/1113

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


8723. Your 6561, February 13, 7 p.m. Mr. Balfour informs me that his Government has not committed itself to any policy or action touching Siberia. The only act that could possibly be regarded as contrary to this sweeping assertion is a request made by a British military commander that the Japanese Army supply arms to Semenov, a Russian leader who wishes to cut the line of possible communication of Germans and Vladivostok, and even this was not a request made by the British of the Japanese Government. The Japanese Government has not been approached on the subject of Siberia by the British Government at all. All that the British Government has telegraphed to its representatives at Washington and Tokyo were preliminary inquiries, and the plan once under discussion of asking Japan to occupy the railways was not carried out and has been abandoned.

In the course of a long conversation Mr. Balfour informed me that he is now trying to get his Government to formulate some sort of Siberian policy to be discussed with the American Government and his [the] Allies; but that the Cabinet has not yet taken the subject up. In a recent discussion the French Ambassador here, Cambon, asked Balfour if he would take up the subject with the French without taking it up with the United States and Balfour answered “No.” He remarked to me: “You may be assured that I will not recede from that position.”

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He remarked during the conversation that in his own opinion the Japanese were afraid of a possible German advance eastward through Russia and that if such an advance should threaten to reach the Pacific the Japanese might oppose it on their own account.