The Acting Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador (Ishii)

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of January 15, 1919,7 with which you presented to me January 16, 1919, under instruction from your Government, the plan of supervision of railways in the zone in which the Allied forces are now operating in Siberia.8 I beg also to inform you that the memorandum handed by the American Ambassador at Tokio to Viscount Uchida,9 covering seven separate questions relating to the plan upon which the Ambassador and Viscount Uchida have reached a thorough understanding, as you mentioned to me, confirms the understanding which the Department had already received from Ambassador Morris.

In notifying you of the acceptance by this Government of the general plan which you have presented, with due reservation as to any financial responsibility which may be involved and which, it is suggested, shall be the subject of further discussion, I wish to express [Page 595]my gratification that our two Governments have reached a cordial and clear understanding upon a matter which so much concerns the welfare of Russia. I wish also to inform you that this Government approves the memorandum agreed to by your Government with the American Ambassador at Tokio.

At the same time allow me to point out the clear understanding which this Government has as to the interpretation to be placed upon the word “interests” in the next to the last sentence of Section three of the plan for the supervision of the railways. The United States understands that the word “interests” in this case, is used as referring to the convenience of the respective Allied powers and the United States, and not as implying any political or territorial rights or spheres of influence. As is so clearly stated in the memorandum to which I have referred above, the plan is to be interpreted as a sincere effort to operate the Siberian railway system in the interest of the Russian people, and I am already aware of the sincere and friendly purpose which your Government has in furthering this intention.

I may add that the American diplomatic representatives at London, Rome, Paris and Peking are being instructed today to communicate formally to the Governments to which they are accredited, our approval of the plan for the supervision of the railways, and of the memorandum relating to the plan which have resulted from the negotiations between Viscount Uchida and the American Ambassador at Tokio; and to secure the approval and support of the respective Governments concerned. They have also been instructed to communicate their action to their Japanese colleagues.

Accept [etc.]

Frank L. Polk
  1. Not printed.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1918, Russia, vol. iii, pp. 301302.
  3. See telegram of Jan. 9 from the Ambassador in Japan, p. 590.