891.77/712: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Standley) to the Secretary of State

23. Department’s 16, January 8, 10 p.m. to Kuibyshev. In my conversation with Molotov98 on January 13, I read him a paraphrase of the first paragraph of the Department’s telegram and expressed the hope that an early notification of the Soviet position in regard to the railroad transfer plan would be made to the Iranian Government. Molotov stated that the actual terms of the British-American transfer were not entirely clear to him and asked what the plan envisaged: for example, would American personnel operate the entire railroad replacing former Iranian personnel; would such personnel be military or civilian; for what term or duration would American operation be in effect; have Great Britain and the United States agreed on all details of the transfer; is the transfer plan secret or has it been made public. I stated that I was not conversant with all details of the transfer but [Page 439] had assumed that the Soviet Ambassador in Tehran had been fully informed and had advised his Government accordingly. This, however, does not appear to be the case.

Although I carefully explained that the main reason for the transfer was for the express purpose of increasing and expediting the shipment of supplies to Russia, I received the impression that Molotov was, to a certain degree suspicious of the real motives of the American Government in taking over the operation of the Persian Gulf–Tehran railroad.

It would be helpful tome in allaying any such doubts which Molotov might entertain if the Department would advise me in full of the terms of the railroad transfer and inform me whether I may pass on this information to Molotov. The Department may wish to request Dreyfus99 to obtain this information from General Connolly1 and telegraph it to me. The British Embassy here has no detailed information regarding the transfer plan.

Molotov stated that he would look into the question of the Soviet notification and communicate again with me.

  1. V. M. Molotov, Soviet Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Louis G. Dreyfus, Jr., American Minister in Iran.
  3. Maj. Gen. Donald H. Connolly, Commanding General, Persian Gulf Service Command.