811.607 New York 1939/2122

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt)

No. 37

Sir: The receipt is acknowledged of your despatch no. 83 of September 26, 1939 concerning the refusal of the Soviet authorities in Moscow to grant customs facilities or privileges to persons other than the diplomatic officers whose names appear on the official diplomatic list. Your suggestion regarding the advantage to the Embassy of being telegraphically advised by the Department of every request made by the Soviet Embassy in Washington for courtesies or concessions had been taken under consideration.

Since the Department considers that so far as practicable customs courtesies and privileges should be on the basis of reciprocity, it would be appreciated if you would continue to keep the Department informed regarding the treatment accorded the Embassy and members of its staff by the Soviet customs authorities. Such information will assist the Department in reaching decisions with regard to requests for special courtesies which may be made by the Soviet Embassy in Washington.

The Department on its part will inform you telegraphically whenever circumstances permit of requests for customs privileges of an exceptional or important nature made by the Soviet Embassy, and will inform you periodically in writing of such requests of a minor nature. It may be stated, however, that in view of the liberal treatment accorded to foreign diplomatic missions in this country, few requests for exceptional customs courtesies are received by the Department from the Soviet Embassy.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
G. S. Messersmith