The Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: The Rumanian Minister intends to seek an interview with you within the next few days to discuss certain phases of the Bessarabian question which he believes may assume a prominent place in the deliberations of the Disarmament Conference now meeting at Geneva.2 Mr. Davila set forth his views in detail to me and asked me to bring them to your attention.

As you are aware, there have been recent negotiations between the French and the Soviet Governments for the conclusion of a security and non-aggression pact. I am informed that a substantial agreement has been reached by the two Governments on this subject but that the coming into force of this instrument is dependent upon an agreement being reached along similar lines between the Soviet Government and the Governments of Poland and Rumania, respectively. I am furthermore informed that the agreement between the Soviet and Polish Governments has been initialed and that the only outstanding obstacle to the consummation of these pacts is the dispute between Soviet Russia and Rumania over the Bessarabian question.

Mr. Davila informs me that the Soviet-Rumanian negotiations which were being carried on until recently at Riga have been suspended but that they are to be resumed this week at Geneva between the foreign ministers of the two countries, who are the respective delegates of Soviet Russia and Rumania to the Disarmament Conference. It appears that during the negotiations at Riga the Rumanians wished to introduce into the proposed non-aggression pact an article obligating the Soviet Government to respect all territory now submitted to Rumanian sovereignty. This would of course have included the disputed territory of Bessarabia. The Russians refused to accept such an article. The Rumanians claim that a non-aggression pact between themselves and the Russians is meaningless unless [Page 504] an agreement is reached as to what would constitute aggression on the part of the Russians. In other words, they cannot admit that an attack upon Bessarabia would not constitute aggression because of the Russian thesis that Bessarabia is not Rumanian territory.

In order to meet the above difficulty the Rumanians have devised a new formula, which I understand they propose to offer at Geneva. This formula is designed to obtain the consent of the Soviet Government to respect the integrity of all territory lying west of the Dniester River (present boundary between Bessarabia and Soviet Russia).

While Mr. Davila did not raise the question of our traditional refusal to recognize the annexation of Bessarabia by Rumania, he expressed the hope that as a contribution to peace in Europe, and hence to the success of the present Disarmament Conference, this Government would authorize its delegates at Geneva, if the necessity should arise, to express their approval of the above-mentioned formula offered by the Rumanians as a means of bringing into operation a non-aggression pact with the Russians. Mr. Davila argues that such assistance by the United States would not in any way affect our present attitude respecting the claims of Rumania to the territory of Bessarabia. Our assistance would, on the other hand, serve to neutralize one of the danger spots in the European political situation and thereby facilitate the success of the Disarmament Conference.

While we obviously do not wish to inject ourselves into purely European disputes, such as the Bessarabian question, we are at the same time deeply interested in the success of the Disarmament Conference and should, I presume, therefore be interested in the elimination of any obstacles that might contribute to the failure of that Conference. Undoubtedly the fear of Soviet Russia felt by her western neighbors is one such obstacle. On the other hand, a successful conclusion of the present non-aggression pact may serve to a considerable degree to alleviate that fear.

The question, therefore, which the Rumanian Minister will put to you shortly is whether you would be willing, if the need arises, to authorize our delegates at Geneva to express approval of the Rumanian contention that Soviet Russia in the non-aggression pact now under negotiation should agree to refrain from any acts of aggression beyond the Dniester River (present boundary between Bessarabia and Soviet Russia).

Wallace Murray