The Norwegian Ambassador (Morgenstierne) to the Secretary of State
Excellency: I have the honor to refer to my note of November 24, 1942,4 to Your Excellency’s note of December 3, 1942, to my note of [Page 482]December 7, 1942,5 and to the resulting meeting of December 10, 1942, in the office of Admiral Land.6 Following that meeting and in accordance with the suggestion of the War Shipping Administration, discussions were carried on between representatives of the War Shipping Administration, the British Ministry of War Transport and the Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission on the proposed matters for discussion listed as items (1), (2) and (3) in my note of November 24th.
The results of these discussions are embodied in a Memorandum of a Tripartite Agreement between the United States, Great Britain and Norway which has been initialled by the representatives of the War Shipping Administration, the British Ministry of War Transport and the Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission and of which I herewith enclose a copy.7
As you will know from my previous notes, it has been my Government’s considered view that the subjects comprised in my note of November 24th should, as far as possible, be dealt with in a Bilateral Agreement between your Government and mine. This view was based upon an appreciation of the strong ties which existed both before and during the war between commercial interests in the United States and Norwegian shipping and a desire for these relations to continue to receive the fullest possible expression. The safeguarding of these ties during the war period and their further extension after the war are regarded as matters of great importance by my Government. A bilateral agreement seemed to me to fit in the most harmoniously with these aims. In view, however, of the strong conviction held by the appropriate shipping authority of your Government that most of the matters under discussion should more appropriately be covered by a Tripartite Agreement, the scope of the enclosed Memorandum has been extended to conform with your Government’s desires, in the expectation that in thus meeting your wishes the opportunity for effective cooperation in our common war effort would be increased.
It is still my view, however, that the Tripartite Agreement can nevertheless appropriately be embodied in a Bilateral Agreement between your Government and mine. If this meets with your approval, my Government suggests that you might be agreeable to nominate representatives of your Government to meet with the representatives of my Government named in my note of December 7th, to discuss the [Page 483]Bilateral Agreement and also the subject matter of Item 4 in my note of November 24th, namely:
“Some clarification in the light of experience since the conclusion of the Lend-Lease Agreement of July 11, 1942,8 of the practical interpretation to be put upon the language of Clause 2 of my note of that date, when applied to the varying facts of actual cases as they arise.”
In the meantime separate discussions have for some time past been going on between the Norwegian Ambassador and the Department of State as well as between the Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission and the War Shipping Administration regarding a possible basis for placing American vessels (without any transfer of title) under the Norwegian flag, to be manned by Norwegian officers and crews and operated by the Mission. It is hoped that this may prove a valuable temporary expedient, employing Norwegian manpower made idle by war sinkings, as well as utilizing more fully the energy and experience of the executive personnel of the Mission, pending such time when (as contemplated in Clause 3 of my note of July 11, 1942, accompanying the Lend-Lease Agreement), it may prove possible to make newbuildings available, title to which can be transferred to my Government in actual replacement of lost tonnage.