Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Ailing)
|The Greek Minister
The Greek Minister called today and confirmed the information which had been furnished by Mr. Condouriotis, as outlined in the attached memorandum of today’s date.72 The Minister stated specifically that it was positively not his understanding that the naval training planes recently offered to the Greek Government fulfilled the commitment made last November when the Minister was promised thirty modern planes. He said that this point had come up during his conversation at the Treasury and that he had made it perfectly clear that he could not regard the offer of training planes as fulfilling the commitment which had been made in regard to modern planes. He went on to say that at his request the Treasury Department had prepared a memorandum outlining its recent offer and in that memorandum it was quite clear that the training planes were not offered in lieu of the fighting planes. He said he would be very glad to furnish the Department with a copy of this memorandum if we had any difficulty in obtaining a copy from the Treasury Department.
The Minister asked as to the present status of the proposal made by the British Government for a solution of this question by furnishing Mohawk planes direct to the Greek Government from supplies in [Page 681] Egypt and having them replaced by thirty Tomahawk planes to be shipped to Basra by an American vessel. Mr. Murray explained that we had recently been informed by the British Chargé d’Affaires that this proposal should be considered as in abeyance. The Minister seemed greatly surprised at this and expressed the view that he would immediately convey the information to his Government. Mr. Murray suggested, however, that this might not be necessary, or at any rate the report might be delayed until we had explored the situation further. The Minister then reviewed the whole sequence of events and stressed the fact that what his Government wanted and needed first and foremost was fighting planes to prosecute the military operations against Italy, and that, although training planes might be useful, they could not in any case be considered as a satisfactory substitute for fighting aircraft.
I conveyed the foregoing information to Mr. Williams in the Treasury Department, who said that he was not aware of any memorandum prepared in the Treasury Department which answered the description given by the Greek Minister. He said, however, that he would make inquiries and would let us know what he found out. I told him that if such a memorandum existed we should be interested in having a copy for our files, but that if the Treasury was unable to furnish us a copy we could of course obtain one from the Greek Legation.