Memorandum of Conversation, by the Adviser on Political Relations (Murray)

Mr. Michael Wright, First Secretary of the British Embassy, spoke to me today with regard to the communication of July 10, 1943 (copy attached),20 addressed by the Secretary of State to Lord Halifax, setting forth this Government’s understanding as to the precise scope of the decision reached at Casablanca regarding Turkey.

Mr. Wright stated that while the Embassy was not in possession of the texts of the decisions reached at Casablanca, it was his very clear understanding from the communication that he had received from Mr. Strang in this matter that the agreement arrived at between the President and Mr. Churchill regarding Turkey was closely tied up with questions of policy with respect to China; and that when the Prime Minister had requested and received permission from the President to assume primary responsibility for “playing the cards” with Turkey, he had amplified this request by referring to “diplomatic matters” in addition to the question of the direct delivery by Great Britain to Turkey of American Lend-Lease military supplies. Mr. Wright added that according to his understanding the minutes of the Casablanca meeting would bear out this interpretation.

I informed Mr. Wright that we also were not in possession of the texts of the agreements arrived at at Casablanca, but that I was interested to know that he believed exact minutes had been kept of all the conversations between the President and Mr. Churchill, and asked him whether he knew who had drawn up the minutes. He seemed to be rather vague on that point but felt certain that according to the understanding of the British Foreign Office, the President’s concession to Mr. Churchill allowing him “to play the cards” with Turkey, embraced diplomatic matters in addition to those pertaining to military supplies.

Mr. Wright then said that the Embassy was not quite certain as to how it should proceed further in this matter, in the light of the Secretary’s communication to Lord Halifax; whether they should reply to the Secretary, pointing out the contrary understanding entertained in London in this matter, or whether they should let the matter drop. I then informed Mr. Wright that the Secretary’s letter had been cleared in highest quarters, and that consequently it seemed to me that it would serve no useful purpose to continue the correspondence. I said I was confident he would readily agree that this Government had had no intention of placing itself in the position of renouncing all right of [Page 1069] direct diplomatic relations with the Turkish Government. Otherwise there would, of course, be no need for maintaining an American Embassy at Ankara, nor any necessity for the presence in Washington of a Turkish Embassy.

Mr. Wright then added that if the present letter was to remain on the record there were certain minor details of his conversation with Mr. Ailing on this subject, referred to in the letter, which he would beg permission to correct. It is my understanding that these details will not in any way affect the purport of the letter itself.

Wallace Murray
  1. Supra.