761.94/791: Telegram

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

353. I called this afternoon to say goodbye to Litvinov. He expressed the opinion that the murder of King Alexander would cause great resentment in Yugoslavia against France and would tend to throw Yugoslavia completely into the arms of Germany. He expressed the hope that Herriot12 might become Foreign Minister but the expectation that the Cabinet would fall.

With regard to relations between the Soviet Union and Japan, Litvinov said that since his return to Moscow he had examined with great care all reports from Japan; that they indicated that the Japanese Army could not possibly attack the Soviet Union at the present time; that he had no fear whatsoever of a Japanese attack in the foreseeable future. He added that the discussions with regard to the Chinese Eastern Railway were going normally and that the agreement would soon be signed. Litvinov stated that the Japanese were having much greater difficulty than anticipated in “Manchukuo” and that the Japanese Government had just informed him that it would [Page 292] be necessary to move an army corps up to the Siberian frontier in order to attempt to put down the Chinese irregulars.

Litvinov also stated that he had definite information that the Japanese were preparing a further advance into Inner Mongolia.

The Turkish Ambassador, who is very close to many members of the Soviet Government, informed me yesterday that in his opinion Litvinov was making a determined attempt to work out an entente with Japan but added that there was little real belief among the members of the Soviet Government that any friendly relationship reached with Japan would be more than a truce.

I therefore asked Litvinov if he had had any discussions with the Japanese directed toward the conclusion of a nonaggression pact. He replied that there had been no official discussions but that such discussions might follow the sale of the Chinese Eastern Railway to “Manchukuo”. I asked him if the Japanese, in connection with any informal discussion which might have taken place, had asked for recognition of “Manchukuo”. He replied that they had not, but that the question might come up if there should be discussions of a nonaggression pact. I asked him what his position would be. He replied that he believed that it would be advisable for all the nations of the world to recognize “Manchukuo” provided the recognition could be sold to Japan at the price of a Pacific pact of nonaggression and mutual assistance. He said that the eventual recognition of “Manchukuo” was inevitable; that either Germany or Poland would begin the process, and that all other nations would then have to fall in line; and that he believed that an attempt should be made to use recognition of “Manchukuo” to extort a pact of nonaggression and mutual assistance from Japan.

  1. Edouard Herriot, former President of the French Council of Ministers.