740.00112 European War 1939/7603: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Sweden (Johnson)

51. Your 109, January 11.

We consider it incompatible with our stated position regarding the obligation of the Swedish Government to permit the two Norwegian ships to depart to accept from the Swedish Government any “conditions” for its permission for the free departure of these ships. However, treating the points 1 to 4 in your reference telegram solely as “requests” of the Swedish Government, our position thereto is as follows, seriatim:
We assume that the assurances in paragraph 1 of our 35, January 9, satisfactorily dispel Swedish apprehensions on this point.
We consider that method and time of shipment of the oil quota are matters which should be taken up for friendly discussion concurrently with the forthcoming London negotiations. We will in such [Page 746] discussion take into full account Swedish military needs, and shipping problems. (For your information: Thorough consideration has been given to the recommendation in your 129, January 13,16 that full consent be given immediately to both sections of Swedish request (2). However, the terms of the President’s directives of November 2017 with which you are familiar would make it impossible for us to agree to the Swedish request without going back to the President for further instructions. You will appreciate that such a step might instigate prolonged discussions with other agencies of the Government having a vital interest in oil matters. This would be inadvisable even though there were no factor of delay involved.)
This point is not entirely clear to us. We have already assured the Swedes that if the Norwegian ship matter is satisfactorily concluded, we have every hope that the negotiations in London can proceed to a satisfactory agreement. We have also assured the Swedes that our plans for the forthcoming London negotiations do not involve any matters which might occasion a threat to close the Göteborg traffic; nor do we plan the introduction of further demands on Sweden which have not already been discussed with Boheman either in London or in Washington. Boheman is already familiar with our views and we have from the beginning assumed that the London negotiations would take place within the framework of those views and of Boheman’s memorandum. We feel sure that the Swedish Government will appreciate that we cannot commit ourselves further on this point and tie our hands in advance of negotiations which we confidently expect will be conducted in a liberal and friendly spirit on both sides. We assume from the parenthetic sentence in paragraph numbered 3 of your 109 that the Swedes are not expecting any such definite commitments on our part but are satisfied with the general assurances given.
In our discussions with Boheman on the question of charter to us of “free” Swedish ships in the Western Hemisphere, we have already made clear that such ships would be returned to the Swedes for use in the Göteborg traffic should they become necessary for the maintenance of the traffic. This assurance should take care of the question of the replacement of ships sunk in the Göteborg traffic.
The Swedish Government should be informed that, in view of the assurances set out above, we anticipate that it will agree without delay to all proper facilities for departure of the Norwegian ships at any time after the arrival of the Sveadrott. We should not consider that our requirements have been met should the discussion be further protracted over details.
The foregoing has been discussed with representatives of the British Embassy and the Board of Economic Warfare. The Embassy is telegraphing its substance to London. If substantially concurred in by London, we anticipate that Mallet will be instructed to make [Page 747] a reply along these lines. You should keep in close touch with him and arrange to call at the Foreign Office immediately after his call in order to acquaint the Swedish Government with our views with respect to their requests.
Repeat to London for information of Canfield.
  1. Not printed.
  2. See paragraph numbered 3 of telegram No. 5869, November 21, 1942, 9 p.m., to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iii, p. 359.