741.61/794: Telegram

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

413. My 405, July 25.30 The Moscow press this morning announces without comment that a further conversation took place yesterday between Molotov and the French and British Ambassadors and Strang.

[Page 290]

I am informed in the strictest confidence by the latter that substantial agreement on most points involved in the political understanding has now been reached, although important definitions and many details still remain to be agreed upon. He said that during the last conversation with Molotov the latter had expressed the view of the Soviet Government that the time has now arrived for staff talks between the military representatives of the three powers, that the British and French Governments have acceded to this Soviet viewpoint and that he expects French and British military missions, the composition of which is as yet unknown to him, to reach Moscow within approximately 10 days.

With regard to the political phase of the negotiations he stated that in the main it provides, (1) for assistance to be rendered to any one of the three powers in case of its involvement in hostilities resulting from direct attack upon it, and (2) assistance in case of direct or indirect attack upon certain countries or areas deemed what he roughly defined as of strategic importance to that country. The agreement also provides for frequent consultation between the three powers with regard to European developments involving the possible application of the pact. According to Strang’s belief point (1) above would ultimately be made public, while he doubted that the second point would be published and felt sure that the military agreement, if achieved, would remain secret. Strang used the word “vital” as conveying the idea applied to the countries or areas referred to in (2) above but not as the word that would necessarily be employed in defining such a case. It is precisely this difficult phase of the political situation, he asserted, which is giving the most trouble and upon which all bargaining powers are still working to achieve an adequate definition. He added that although a large measure of agreement has now been reached between the three Governments on the general political phases of the understanding, nevertheless the Soviet Government holds to the view that neither the political nor the military offer for the probable phase can stand alone, and that therefore until the military conversations have been completed and have resulted in an agreement, any political understanding must remain in abeyance. The idea, however, he stated is deemed to be not altogether objectionable since with or without an actual signed instrument the substantial measure of political agreement now achieved, together with the military conversations agreed upon, will tend to act as a deterrent to further aggressive acts on the part of the Axis powers. Strang stated that the military conversations may be protracted, but expressed optimism regarding an early conclusion of the political agreement, and the expectation that he would be able to depart from Moscow upon the conclusion of the latter.

  1. Not printed.