811.20 Defense (M)/150: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Murphy) to the Secretary of State

194. Your 127, July 22, 8 p.m. I believe that I have discovered the reason for the French reluctance to release the wolfram and antimony which formed part of the Selenga cargo.

Our telegrams 12, July 3, noon,31a and 18, July 5, 8 a.m., were based on statements made by Charveriat and Chauvel of the Political Department of the Foreign Office. According to the officer in the Economic Department who is handling the matter Charveriat and Chauvel spoke without the book and were not in possession of all the facts. This contact told me under stricture that no official use be made of the information that the Soviets insist on delivery of the wolfram and antimony to a vessel of Soviet registry on the ground that: (1) the ores were removed by the French from a Soviet bottom, and (2) all [Page 657] transactions regarding the cargo concluded during the blockade investigation are null and void under French law.

In strictest confidence my informant went on to say that the French Government is tying up this question with a proposition to the Soviets for the delivery to nonoccupied France of gasoline and rubber. The Soviets apparently have promised an initial delivery of 5,000 tons of gasoline. The French believe that the British blockade authorities will not care to stop such a shipment under the Soviet flag. My contact concluded by saying that as this particular cargo comprised only a small part of the total quantity of these ores in Indo-China the United States would probably not wish to insist on its release.

I made it quite clear that my Government did insist and that our position is unassailable, based as it is on the unreasonable [unquestionable?] title of the Chinese vendor. The fact that under French law title may not change during the blockade investigation confers no title on the Soviet claimant.

The Embassy will continue to press for an early adjustment.

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