The Minister in Sweden ( Bliss ) to the Secretary of State

No. 135

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s Instruction No. 17, of January 13 [3], in further reference [Page 167] to the question of the jurisdiction claimed by Sweden over territorial waters. In that instruction I am directed to report “the views held by Swedish officials with respect to the proposal for a treaty dealing with the enforcement of prohibition on Swedish vessels within American territorial waters and measures for stopping liquor smuggling operations outside of the three mile limit.”

On receipt of this instruction, I took the first opportunity which was presented to speak informally with Baron Marks von Würtemberg, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the matter. I told him that I was desirous of learning the views of the Swedish Government officials on this subject, but explained that my inquiry was made informally and should not be considered as a proposal to negotiate a treaty. The Minister stated that he could not reply immediately, as the matter was a subject which required consideration and the necessity of talking with his colleagues, but that he would give me an answer as soon as possible.

Not having the text of the treaty then being negotiated between our Government and that of Great Britain on this same subject, I was unable to accede to the Minister’s request to supply him with a copy thereof.

He asked several questions, especially wishing to know what advantage it would be to Swedish vessels and Swedish commerce if his Government were to recognize the jurisdiction of the United States beyond the three mile limit for the purpose of suppressing liquor smuggling operations. I replied that according to the treaty we were then discussing with England, Swedish vessels would obtain the privilege of carrying liquor as sealed stores within the territorial waters of the United States and cargoes of liquors, not destined for disembarkation within the confines of the United States. I also pointed out that a somewhat similar provision for extending the limits of jurisdiction over territorial waters was contained in the treaty between Sweden and Mexico, whereby it was provided, for the purpose of enforcement of customs regulations, that the territorial waters of the two contracting parties would be extended to a distance of about ten miles.

A fortnight ago Baron von Würtemberg told me that he had received a copy of the American-English treaty, which was being examined by his colleagues, and that he hoped to have something to say to me shortly. Yesterday, at the weekly diplomatic reception, he said that he had examined that treaty with much interest and that Sweden would be quite disposed to enter into negotiations with the United States looking to the conclusion of a treaty of that nature.

He expressed the desire that whatever agreement might be reached for extending the territorial waters beyond the three mile limit would [Page 168] be a reciprocal arrangement. I told the Minister that I could make no rejoinder to that request other than to say that I would acquaint my Government with the desire that he expressed, for my inquiry to him having been of an informal nature, I could not enter into a discussion of the subject with him.

I have [etc.]

Robert Woods Bliss