411.59 M 73/13
The Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Castle) to the Under Secretary of State (Grew)
Mr. Grew: The Danish Minister came in to see me by appointment this morning concerning two cases which he tells me his Government considers of vital importance.
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The second case was that of tonnage dues and the claim of Denmark that, because Norwegian ships paid only 2 cent dues the United States ought to extend this rate to Denmark as a right under the Danish American Treaty. The Minister said he had been writing about this for thirteen years and had never had from anyone a satisfactory statement of the Department’s position. I told him that I should be glad to discuss the matter with him very frankly on condition that I could consider our talk absolutely confidential. The Minister said he could guarantee this. I then said I felt myself that this Government had made an initial error in ever granting the 2 cent rate to Norway, that this had been done many years ago, however, and that I thought it unfortunate that the matter had been allowed to drag along endlessly. I told the Minister that we might well stand firmly on our legal arguments but that this still would be getting us nowhere. I said that to grant the Danish contention would be unthinkable as it would throw the door wide open to many other nations which, although having as much claim as Denmark, had yet made no claims, presumably because they did not consider the claim sound. I then told him that in my opinion there were only two courses open, to abrogate either the Norwegian or the Danish treaty. The Minister said it would seem a little unfair to him to abrogate the Danish treaty, and I said that I personally was induced to agree since the trouble all came from a clause in the Norwegian treaty. I told him that one or the other of these courses was under serious consideration, that we had not yet decided definitely what course to take and that this was the reason why my conversation was of necessity confidential. The Minister said that he was immensely grateful, that it was the first clear cut statement he had had and that although abrogation of the treaty would put an end to Danish hopes of securing the low tonnage rate he would be thankful to have one of the most troublesome questions between the two countries permanently out of the way.