661.11241/15: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the Soviet Union (Henderson)

189. Your No. 310, November 30, 9 a.m. It is assumed that the Embassy is familiar with circular instruction dated August 19, 1937, diplomatic serial no. 2829,3 setting forth exemptions from taxation and customs duties enjoyed by foreign diplomatic and consular officers in the United States. It is apparent from this instruction that the practices described in your telegram are not employed by this Government.

With reference to the inspection of effects, the Department is unable to perceive how a system of inspection at the customs house which can only involve expense and delay to the officers to whom it is applied, which can not but result in great inconvenience and irritation, and which does not evidence proper regard for the dignity of the diplomatic office, will serve the interests of the Soviet Government or any agency thereof.

The Department is not aware of any principle of international law that would justify the levying on effects acquired by a chief of mission and taken by him out of the country of any tax, regardless of what the tax may be called. Furthermore, the imposition of such a tax is regarded as being contrary to the long established practice of civilized nations.

Should the chiefs of mission in Moscow decide to make a joint protest please telegraph the pertinent parts of it before you associate yourself with it.

  1. Not printed in this volume.