Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)
The British Ambassador called to see me today.
The Ambassador said that he wished to talk to me about a confidential matter which related to the attitude of Ambassador Steinhardt. He said that his “supply people” had reported that Ambassador Steinhardt had reported to the Government of the United States that lend-lease goods destined for Turkey had been taken by British authorities for their own use and had been charged up against the Turkish loan. He said that such a report was inaccurate inasmuch as only freight charges for the carrying of these goods to Turkey had been charged up against the Turkish loan by the British Government [Page 702] and that no goods intended for Turkey had been taken over by the British since the understanding reached with this Government concerning Turkey some months ago. He said he felt that a desirable solution for a problem of this character would be for Ambassador Steinhardt to inform his British colleague in Ankara of reports of this character which might come to him and not report them to the Government of the United States without giving his British colleague a chance to inform him of their accuracy.
I said I was surprised by the information the Ambassador had given me since I had understood that Ambassador Steinhardt maintained close and friendly cooperative relations with the British Ambassador in Turkey. Lord Halifax said he thought this was the case but that apparently the relationship did not go to the point of preventing the candid report to which exception had been taken. I stated that in my judgment Ambassador Steinhardt had already, in the short time he had been in Turkey, proven himself to be an exceptionally helpful and capable representative of the United States. I said I felt that his reports had been of the greatest value to us here and that his relations and close friendship with the Turkish Foreign Minister made him a particularly valuable contact at this time. I said further that I felt Mr. Steinhardt was entirely right in reporting to his own Government information of any character which, in his own judgment, he felt it should possess, and that, while I had no reason to doubt that it would be useful for him to maintain a very close contact with his British colleague regarding all supply questions, which were obviously of great interest to both of our Governments, I would not feel disposed to give Mr. Steinhardt any instructions which would in any sense limit his entire freedom of action with regard to his reporting to this Government on whatever he saw fit.