Memorandum of Telephone Conversations, by Mr. Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., of the Division of European Affairs

This morning Mr. Thor telephoned me from New York and inquired as to the nature of the reply which the Secretary of State had made to the Icelandic Prime Minister’s telegram proposing direct Icelandic consular and diplomatic representation in the United States. I gave Mr. Thor the substance of Mr. Hull’s telegram to the Prime Minister, dated April 16, particularly that portion which indicated that should an Icelandic Legation be opened in Washington this [Page 677] Government would prefer that it be in charge of a diplomatic officer who would confine himself to the performance of diplomatic duties.

This afternoon Mr. Thor telephoned and said that after his conversation with me this morning he had telegraphed his Government that there appeared two alternatives, first, to open a Legation in Washington in charge of a Chargé d’Affaires, together with a Consulate General in New York in charge of a Consul General, and second, to forego for the moment the establishment of a Legation in Washington, (particularly since the United States at this time was only establishing a Consulate in Reykjavik) and open a Consulate General in New York. He said that he had informed his Government that he was sure that as Consul General he would be permitted to transact necessary business with the State Department, but that it would not of course give the Icelandic Government the direct relationship with the American Government which could be maintained only through a Legation.

Mr. Thor then said that he had just received a telegram from his Government which had evidently crossed his of this morning, asking him to inquire whether in his opinion it would be satisfactory to the American Government if Iceland at this time confined itself to the establishment of a Consulate General. He said that his Government, in view of their limited funds and the comparatively small amount of official business between the two Governments, would prefer their first suggestion, namely, the establishment of a Legation in Washington to be in charge of their Consul General in New York.

I told Mr. Thor that I would consult my superiors and try to give him an answer informally in the morning.2

  1. Marginal note by Mr. Cumming states that he telephoned Mr. Thor on April 18th that it would be perfectly satisfactory if an Icelandic Consulate General only were opened.