861.50 Am 3/17: Telegram

The Ambassador in Germany ( Houghton ) to the Acting Secretary of State


187. This afternoon Chicherin handed me the following statement. He prefaced the statement by saying that if the prospect of Russian competition in grain alarmed the agricultural bloc, such [Page 833] fear was needless as the industrial development of Russia would probably bring about the consumption by Russia of her own products. However, if American capital for the industrial needs of Russia was not provided, then doubtless the surplus crop would be exported in good years while in bad years the crop would be consumed at home. The following is the statement which Chicherin handed me:52

“The Russian Government is interested in the highest degree in every step which can bring nearer the reestablishment of commercial relations between Russia and the United States of America. It is evident that such commercial relations must be based upon equality of rights and reciprocal benefits. The Russian Government is therefore ready to begin at once preliminary official exchange of opinions as to reopening of regular relations with a duly authorized American delegation. The Russian Government is in the same measure disposed to carry on such discussions in Russia, in the United States or in any third country. The Russian Government would eagerly welcome any measure which being based upon mutual interest and equality would allow both the United States and Russia to acquire the necessary information as to the business conditions of the two countries. The wish of the Russian Government is to create permanent and solid business relations between Russia and America. It is from this viewpoint that Russia cannot consider as a measure promoting the desired end the nomination of an American committee of inquiry for Russia which would put Russia in a condition of inferiority. Russian public opinion would evidently consider such a nomination by one of the two governments of a committee of inquiry for the other country as an infringement to the equality of rights of free peoples. The result would be that feelings would be engendered which would be scarcely helpful to the consolidation of useful business intercourse between the two countries. The Russian Government thinks that the American Government having gathered ample information about the internal conditions in Russia with the help of officials of the Relief Administration and through many other channels, will be in a position, if it considers that the time has come for furthering new issues as to Russian trade, to propose forms of intercourse in conformity with equality of rights, and on this basis it will always find on the part of Russia the most eager desire to meet its wishes.”

I told Chicherin briefly that since apparently the Soviet Government felt that it was not possible to admit a commission of technical experts to make a study and report upon Russian economic conditions, there seemed to be nothing more to say. Chicherin replied that if at a later time after he returned to Moscow the American Government had other proposals to make, of course he would gladly consider them. I told him that I had no knowledge of any other proposals and terminated the conversation.

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I was told this morning by De Bach, formerly the Counselor at the Russian Embassy in Washington, that he had heard from several Moscow sources that the Soviet authorities were jubilant at our proposal and were saying that now the ice was broken. Other sources of information confirm this report. Since Chicherin has released this statement to the press and is evidently seeking all the publicity possible, I suggest that we make a public acknowledgment in the briefest possible form. I believe that so far the only result of our proposing a commission has been to convince the Russians that the United States is changing its attitude.

  1. The statement is not paraphrased.