861.77/604e: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Commission to Negotiate Peace

13. For Secretary Lansing: I have been forwarding to you important telegrams regarding Siberia and have also tried to keep you posted to date about the progress of the railway negotiations. The following from Consul General Harris at Omsk, 255 dated December 25th further illustrates that principal and only real difficulty in railway negotiations lies with the Japan[ese?].

[Here follows the text of telegram No. 255, printed in Foreign Relations, 1918, Russia, volume III, page 300.]

We are informing Harris of the situation. You will have seen from the telegram I sent to London December 24 for Ambassador Davis25 and to forward to you, that the British representatives in Siberia who cordially endorsed the plan agreed upon two months ago by Stevens and Morris with Oustrougoff and Horvat are advocating a plan of their own not apparently because they believe it is better but because they believe it has some chance of meeting the views of the Japanese who seem determined to keep control of the [Page 480] Chinese Eastern. I believe we have an obligation to carry out our purpose expressed to the countries concerned when we proposed to employ Mr. Stevens, namely that Stevens should operate the railway in conjunction with Russian officials and personnel and in cooperation with the Allies without modification of existing rights by whomsoever held. We have also said that we do not consider that either the Bolshevik movement or the presence of Allied military assistance in Siberia should be allowed to modify the rights of either Russia or China. Consequently I do not see how we can consent to Japanese control of the Chinese Eastern as one of the direct results of our agreeing with Japan to send troops to Siberia.

I believe you are in a position to press this whole matter at Paris better than we can here and will be glad to know if you feel inclined to do so after conferring with the President. The matter is obviously one of the greatest urgency.