859A.20/170: Telegram

The Chargé in Iceland (Barnes) to the Secretary of State

198. Since the conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, referred to in the Legation’s telegram No. 134, March 3, 6 p.m., the question of post-war use of aerodromes constructed by our forces has been avoided in discussions looking to the acquisition of the land required by General Bonesteel. However, a note has now been received from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs stating that the United States military authorities may consider themselves to be “in possession of the ground area” provided the Icelandic Government receives confirmation “of the mutual understanding that the aerodrome in question”, together with buildings and installations, will become the undisputed property of the Icelandic State, without any payment, charge or obligation, upon the conclusion of the present war. The note concludes with the Statement that the Minister will be pleased to learn from the Legation whether an agreement in the foregoing sense may be considered to exist.

Because of most important military considerations and as the British accept the principle of reversion with improvements, General Bonesteel [Page 5] urges that the Legation be instructed with the least possible delay to reply in the affirmative. I believe that our reply should limit reversion with improvements to immovable installations and should not fail to provide for post-war most-favored-nation’s rights for our own interests. A general agreement covering all airdromes would seem preferable to piecemeal handling of the matter. However, General Bonesteel is most anxious that we proceed in the manner best calculated to obviate delay.