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Memorandum by the Secretary of State

After talking on another subject, the Russian Ambassador then brought up the question of the complaints in the memorandum which this Government handed to him some weeks ago relative to unsatisfactory treatment of our officials and employees and American travelers in his country. He undertook generally to deny most of these complaints, adding that he would soon present a memorandum on the subject.

[Page 643]

I stated that disagreeable as the small pinpricks were, there was a worse phase that our Government has in mind and that is the atmosphere created there of inconvenience and indifference and of more or less uninviting hospitality to those who go into Russia, including the constant espionage and interference with Russian employees of American citizens in the Embassy and Chancery at Moscow; that it prevents this country from improving the relations between the two countries as we are so desirous of doing, especially from the standpoint of promoting peace and mutual welfare; that regardless of the accuracy or inaccuracy of the charges presented, we are seriously handicapped in this broad way and I consider that extremely important. I concluded by saying that if, after we had recognized Russia, that country and this country and Great Britain and France had gone forward in the exercise of normal relations and in developing their combined moral influence for peace, the unpleasant experiences in both the Far East and in Europe would have been reduced at least 50%, whereas the present policies of Russia in these small ways are seriously handicapping such supremely important efforts. I made it clear that I was not criticizing, by reminding the Ambassador of my deep and constant interest and efforts with respect to the promotion of improved relations between the nations and the development of their joint influence as an increasing factor for peace and the general welfare. He denied very strongly all of the small objections to which I have already referred. I replied that they might just as well be true because our people feel that way and feel the atmosphere which they believe they create. I then said that there was an increasing impression that his country desired as rapidly as possible to withdraw within itself in every practicable and possible way. He said that was not true; that of course if it should develop that other nations did not desire to have any close contacts with his country, they could and would undertake correspondingly to live unto themselves, but that they are not isolationists, a fact that he desired to emphasize.

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