859A.014/9

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

Participants: The Secretary of State, Mr. Cordell Hull,
Mr. Vilhjalmur Thor, Retiring Consul General of Iceland,
Mr. Thor Thors, Newly Appointed Icelandic Consul General,
Mr. Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., Division of European Affairs.

The Consul General called on the Secretary of State by appointment to take his leave before returning to Iceland to become Managing Director of the National Bank of Iceland, and to present his successor, Mr. Thor Thors.

After an exchange of amenities, during which Mr. Hull wished Mr. Thor success in his new position, the newly appointed Consul General, Mr. Thors, presented his Commission to the Secretary of State.

Mr. Thor explained at some length the desire of his Government for a more intimate relationship, both economic and political, between Iceland and the United States. From time to time Mr. Thors acquiesced in Mr. Thor’s remarks and supplemented them with observations of his own.

The substance of Mr. Thor’s remarks was that all Icelanders were concerned over the position of Iceland in a war-torn world, and over the difficulties which would face his country in the event of a German victory. He said that he had already discussed with officers of the Department the question of facilitating the sale of Icelandic goods to the United States. He understood the difficulties in the way of obtaining any tariff concessions through trade agreement or otherwise, but he still hoped that a solution would be found.

Mr. Thor then said that speaking informally and unofficially, but with the knowledge and consent of his Government, he wished to repeat the inquiry which he had previously made of Assistant Secretary [Page 683]Berle that the United [States] take Iceland under its protection through some sort of a declaration which would recognize that Iceland was in the Western Hemisphere, and which would extend the Monroe Doctrine so as to include that island.…

Mr. Hull told Mr. Thor that the United States continued to have a very deep and friendly interest in the welfare of Iceland, and of course sympathized with the desire of the Icelandic people to do everything possible to insure the maintenance of their independent status during the present disturbed world conditions. Mr. Hull said that he was sure that the interested officers of the Department would continue to study possibilities of supplementing the help already given Iceland through the million dollar credit extended by the Export-Import Bank.

With respect to the extension of the Monroe Doctrine to include Iceland, Mr. Hull said that we would of course bear Mr. Thor’s suggestion in mind, but that he was sure that Mr. Thor would understand that dealing as this Government constantly was with the many complicated phases of problems arising out of the European situation and the situation in the Far East, we could make no definite answer at this time.

During subsequent conversations with Mr. Atherton, Chief of the Division of European Affairs, and Assistant Secretary of State Berle, Mr. Thor and Mr. Thors covered the same ground as in their conversation with the Secretary of State, and were given substantially the same replies as those given by Mr. Hull.