The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Henderson) to the Secretary of State
[Received 6:25 p.m.]
29. My 18, January 13, noon, regarding Molotov’s speech. Soviet official close to Kremlin has informed me that Molotov’s references to the United States were intended as a friendly gesture and the Soviet Government hoped that they would be considered as such. He added that it would be very helpful to those elements in the Soviet Union, who are particularly interested in improving Soviet-American relations, if the American Government or a responsible American official could at the present time make some kind of a friendly gesture in return which would indicate that the United States Government does not share the anti-Soviet views of the Hearst press.
I told him that I would be glad to transmit his suggestions but pointed out that the attitude which the Soviet Government had assumed with respect to the Communist International14a made friendly [Page 288] gestures on the part of responsible American officials somewhat difficult. Since the Soviet Government maintained that it had no control over the actions of the Communist International there was no guarantee that a friendly gesture on our part might not be followed immediately by some outrageous act on the part of the Comintern which would leave the American Government in a most embarrassing position. He said that he appreciated the difficulties of the situation but felt that the possibility was remote that the Comintern would take any step in the near future which might tend to embarrass Soviet-American relations. I refrained from pointing out that he had made similar remarks to me just prior to the Seventh Congress of the Communist International.