861.48/1601: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Herrick) to the Secretary of State

531. From Walter L. Brown.

“First meeting of International Commission for Russian Relief held Tuesday afternoon August 30th at Quai d’Orsay. Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy and Japan represented officially. On motion British representatives Commission decided to send mission of inquiry to Russia to investigate position and report. The five [Page 820] above nations voted affirmatively I reserving American position for submission to you. Commission however requested America appoint one or more members on mission.

Commission also appointed subcommittee: 1, to decide constitution of mission to Russia, instructions to be given to above mission and form of telegram to be sent to Russia announcing coming of mission; 2, to formulate plans for coordination of Geneva Red Cross, national Red Cross [Societies] and private charity with the relief work of the Commission.

Above committees met Wednesday morning I sitting with coordination committee. Informed committee of A.R.A. attitude based on Hoover’s first message27 to Geneva Conference reserving A.R.A. freedom of action but stating we would be glad to cooperate and lend all assistance on spot to such relief work as was actually brought to Russia, there being room for all.

Full Commission met Wednesday afternoon and decided, following British proposal: 1st, constitution of mission to Russia of up to five representatives and an interpreter for each of five nations above plus a representative of the mixed committee of the Geneva Red Cross. Mission to include British famine expert from India, transport, sanitary, medical and agricultural experts and administrators; 2d, instructions given to mission as to information to be secured; 3d, form of telegram to Moscow; 4th, recommendations to Red Cross and private charities to cooperate with inter-Allied commission.

Commission meets tomorrow presumably to discuss form of credits and finish session. Preliminary discussion indicates British will insist on recognition of pre-war debts and giving of securities as primary condition of extending credits.

In general Commission dominated by British who are the only ones to have prepared programs and who seem desirous of instituting a control of railways and transportation.

Only urgent point is to know if you wish to have American representatives on mission of inquiry to Russia on which have reserved our position. However feel no special advantage to us as A.R.A. representatives now on ground and can maintain informal liaison if necessary. Also presence American with this body might give political color to our operations which we desire to avoid. However Department must determine whether broader lines of policy necessitate presence American with this international group. Attitude of French, Belgian and Italian Red Cross [Societies] seems to be to maintain freedom of action jointly with their governments rather than under Geneva party thus practically conforming to our attitude though not admitting it. Wire urgently your instructions re American representative on mission to Russia.

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