868.48/2086b: Telegram

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

1299. The following message has been received from the Greek War Relief Association in New York:

“Argentine Government has given to Greek Government 20,000 tons wheat for starving Greek people. Greek War Relief Association is informed of opportunity to charter one privately-owned 4000–ton freighter or Argentine Government-owned 7000 to 8000–ton freight[er], both flying Argentine flag, to ship this wheat to Greece. We feel this is wonderful chance to save the lives of thousands in Greece and appeal to you for help in securing permission American Government and if possible through you to seek British Government’s consent. Word from you as quickly as possible under present circumstances will be very deeply appreciated.”

With respect to the use of the Argentine flag vessels, the following from the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee immobilized ship plan of August 28, 1941 may be of use:

“Paragraph 5) The Government of the United States has been informed that the British Government agrees to recognize the transfers of vessels resulting from this plan of operation and to waive its belligerent rights so long as the following conditions are met:

  • “Section b) The vessels are operated under the flag of any American republic in inter-American trade, or by the Government [Page 750]of the United States in general services in accordance with paragraph (4).
  • “Section c) Such service of the vessels now inactive shall not result in the diversion of any other vessels owned or controlled by Governments or nationals of an American republic to services inimical to the interests of Great Britain.”

The Argentine Government vessel mentioned is probably a former Axis immobilized ship and would not be available for trade outside this hemisphere.

The Department is favorably inclined toward this proposal in general but before approving the transaction in principle wishes to receive the views of the British Government. Please cable reply.

Welles