811.248/326: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant )

398. Your 463, January 31, 2 p.m. In view of the military urgency of establishing large scale air facilities on Ascension Island we have [Page 560] no intention of delaying work pending agreement on a question of postwar rights. Construction will accordingly be pressed as rapidly as possible.

At the same time we are confident that the British will recognize the justice and moderation of our request for future civil aviation rights in return for the very large expenditure which we are incurring for the project and that they will approach the discussions, which we propose to initiate shortly, in that spirit. They will understand, I am sure, that not only have we no plans for the postwar use of the field but that we do not even know whether we shall ever desire to exercise the commercial rights we wish to obtain. We do, however, expect the British to grant those rights without delay. Please also make clear to them the advantage to Great Britain from the point of view of American public opinion of meeting such requests promptly and in a broad spirit.