859A.20/179: Telegram

The Minister in Iceland (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State

230. Department’s 125, May 1, 5 p.m. On May 4, I handed a note8 to the Minister for Foreign Affairs stating in substance as follows:

The United States Government accepts the principle of reversion “with all immovable installations” without any payments by or charges against the Icelandic State.
The United States Government understands that upon reversion United States nationals and aviation interests “will possess unconditional and unrestricted most-favored-nation rights” with respect to the use of the airdrome and also rights equal to those accorded aviation interests and nationals of Iceland.
The United States Government understands that the question of United States military and commercial landing rights “in Iceland as a whole” is reserved for discussion after the war in the light of conditions then existing.

In reply, the Minister for Foreign Affairs gave me a note9 yesterday afternoon, expressing pleasure over our acceptance of the principle of reversion, assuring postwar unconditional and unrestricted most-favored-nation rights to United States nationals and aviation interests with respect to Keflavik airdrome, and stating that the Icelandic Government considers the required agreement to have been reached whereby the American Army may regard itself as in possession of the ground necessary for construction.

The reply adds that the Government considers it “desirable and in the fullest harmony with the agreement entrusting the military protection of Iceland to the United States until the conclusion of the present war, that no future military commitments be entered into in connection with the undertakings of the United States forces in Iceland.”

In explanation of this passage, the Minister said that if the United States won the war it would not be possible for Iceland, after the victory, to refuse to discuss the subject of landing rights with us, and indicated that the passage quoted was included as a precautionary statement largely for home consumption.

The note makes no mention of national treatment but the Minister explained that to include it would necessarily involve reference to the Althing and though that body might be induced to consent, if we insisted, the process would inevitably cause further delay to the vital project in hand. He thought that if desired it could be taken up later more usefully.

As the note accepts unconditional and unrestricted most-favored-nation rights, limits reversion to immovable installations and at the same time does not exclude the possibility of later discussions with respect to national treatment and post-war landing rights, I hope that I may be instructed at once to inform the Minister that we consider the agreement satisfactorily concluded.

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