740.0011 European War 1939/31369: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Hamilton) to the Secretary of State

1503. Personal for the Secretary. The British Ambassador asked to see me this afternoon and outlined to me a telegram which he is sending Eden commenting on the Soviet Government’s reply to the suggestions put forth by the British Government as to an agenda for the forthcoming three-power conference. The British Ambassador showed me the Soviet Government’s reply to the British Government which corresponds to statements contained in Soviet Government’s reply to the American Government,40 of which Molotov sent me a [Page 536] copy. The British Ambassador is stating to his Government that at first blush the Soviet Government’s emphasis on discussing the question of the second front might create an impression that the Soviet Government wishes to cause the plan for the conference to be abandoned but that he does not feel that this is an accurate interpretation of Soviet reply. He feels that the Soviet Government will insist on discussion of the second front issue; that the discussion will be preparatory to the meeting later of the Heads of Government; that the British Government should be prepared to discuss the issue at the forthcoming meeting of Foreign Ministers; and that the best way to do this will be for the British Government to augment the military representation on its delegation so that such representatives may set forth fully the factors which are in the judgment of their Government pertinent to the issue.

With regard to the Soviet Government’s request of the British Government that it put forth definite proposals for the implementation of suggested topics which the British Government has listed in its proposed agenda, the British Ambassador is recommending to his Government that it reply that in view of the shortness of time it may not be practicable to evolve precise proposals on all subjects but that the British Government will do the best it can. The British Ambassador stated that he had in mind recommending also that his Government suggest to the Soviet Government that it would be helpful if the Soviet Government would state what proposals it had in mind on the various subjects mentioned by the British Government. The British Ambassador is also suggesting that his Government might point out to the Soviet Government that the basic idea of the conference is to have a round-table discussion and interchange of views with the objective of working out common solutions to various problems in which all three of the Governments are concerned.

In reply to the British Ambassador’s inquiry, I said that my initial reaction was that the Soviet Government should be informed that the second front issue did not properly fall within the scope of the forthcoming conference but that on further consideration it seemed to me that the British Ambassador’s suggestions were sound. I added that obviously we did not wish to encourage any false hope in the mind of the Soviet Government in reference to any decisions which our Governments might take or might have taken but that the best way of attempting to convince the Soviet Government of the soundness of our position would be to have a full and frank discussion of the matter.

  1. September 29, p. 534.