711.00111 Armament Control—Military Secrets/3574

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

Mr. Welles: In accordance with the instructions contained in your attached memorandum of October 24 last,68 I requested the Greek [Page 579]Minister to come to see me today in order that I might discuss with him the desire of his Government, which the Minister conveyed to you on October 16 last, to obtain urgently certain aviation matériel set forth in a memorandum which the Minister left with you.

I explained to the Minister that he was doubtless aware of the dual effort which was being undertaken at the present moment both to accord every possible assistance to Great Britain in her hour of need as well as to meet the enormous requirements of this Government in its rearmament program. I said I felt sure that the Minister’s Government shared our views as to the desirability and necessity of rendering Great Britain every possible aid short of war.

I furthermore referred to the recent instances of airplane orders from both Sweden and Siam and pointed out that in these cases the orders had actually been paid for and, in the case of Siam, shipped and under way to that country and that despite this fact this Government had felt it necessary to exercise its authority to take over the planes in both cases. Such being the case the Minister would of course understand that our attitude in the case of the present request for assistance to Greece was based upon considerations that were applicable in other equally urgent instances.

I added that the Greek Government undoubtedly appreciated the fact that aid without stint to Great Britain was indirectly aid to Greece in view of Great Britain’s commitments to that country, and in this the Minister heartily concurred.

Mr. Diamantopoulos then went on to say that this whole incident had in fact served a very useful purpose as far as he was concerned, namely that it would afford him an opportunity to impress upon his Government the desirability of concentrating authority in matters of this kind entirely in his hands. He said he had been considerably embarrassed by the fact that in the case of these very planes now under discussion the matter had dragged along for several months in the hands of agents unfortunately authorized by the Greek Government to handle the matter, and that only after the agents had proved themselves incapable of getting results he had been requested to bring the matter urgently to your attention. I assured the Minister that we, too, could only welcome this simplification of procedure and reminded him that others of his colleagues, notably the Turk and the Egyptian, had, through personal experience, been able to persuade their governments to eliminate all intermediaries in the matter of arms orders and to concentrate authority solely in their hands.

Mr. Diamantopoulos thanked me profusely for the interest which the Department had shown in this matter and said he fully understood our position, which he would not fail to convey to his Government.

Wallace Murray
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