Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Ailing)

Mr. Wright11 said that it would be recalled that several weeks ago Mr. Murray12 had had a conversation with Mr. Strang13 of the British Foreign Office regarding Turkey. (For convenience, the record of the conversation is quoted herewith:

“Referring to Turkey, Mr. Murray said that as regards the decision reached at Casablanca14 that Turkey was to be considered within a military sphere of primary British responsibility, it was the view of the Department that this agreement was limited strictly to military matters and implied no recognition by the American Government of any primary British responsibility in the political and economic [Page 1065] spheres as regards Turkey. Mr. Murray said that he would be glad to have confirmation that the Department’s view on this matter was similar to that of the British Government. Mr. Strang said that he would take note of the request.”)

Mr. Wright said that Mr. Murray had raised the question concerning the claim of the British Government to have primary responsibilities in Turkey and had stated that he assumed that this applied only to arrangements made at Casablanca for furnishing military supplies under Lend-Lease through Great Britain,15 and that it did not imply any recognition by the American Government of any primary British responsibility in the political and economic spheres in Turkey. Mr. Strang had indicated that that was his understanding of the matter. However, upon returning to London, he had looked up the Casablanca agreement and, in order that the position might be perfectly clear, he had asked Mr. Wright to explain that the President had given the Prime Minister primary responsibility in “playing the cards” with Turkey. I said I assumed that this did not mean that Mr. Strang felt that this Government had given up any independent line of action in Turkey as regards the political field. Mr. Wright replied that he assumed that that was the case and that the agreement at Casablanca applied chiefly to giving the British a relatively free hand in dealing with the Turkish attitude toward the war. He said that, obviously, if we disapproved of any action or proposed action we were perfectly free to say so.

I told Mr. Wright I thought it might be desirable for us to have a perfectly clear understanding on this point and that we should en deavor to find out exactly what had been agreed upon at Casablanca in order to avoid any misunderstandings. Mr. Wright agreed that this would be desirable from the British point-of-view as well as from the American.

  1. Michael Wright, First Secretary of the British Embassy.
  2. Wallace Murray, Adviser on Political Relations.
  3. William Strang, British Deputy Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Mr. Strang had accompanied the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Anthony Eden, on a visit to Washington March 12–30, 1943, for consultations with the Secretary of State; for correspondence regarding Mr. Eden’s visit, see vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.
  4. Correspondence regarding the conference at Casablanca between President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, January 14–24, 1943, is scheduled for publication in a subsequent volume of Foreign Relations.
  5. For correspondence regarding this subject, see pp. 1087 ff., passim.