The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 15—2:10 p.m.]
837. The British Ambassador here tells me that Halifax44 was instructed on March 9 to inform you45 of the attitude expressed by the Soviet Government in a reply of February 28 to the British Ambassador here in regard to the signature at once of the Anglo-Norwegian draft of agreement respecting arrangements for civil administration and jurisdiction in Norwegian territory liberated by an Allied Expeditionary Force, and in regard to non-reference of the Norwegian agreement to the European Advisory Commission. In its reply the Soviet Government draws attention to point XIV of the Moscow Conference agenda which provided that the question of policy in connection with the territory of Allied countries liberated from the enemy was passed to the European Advisory Commission for consideration. The Soviet Government states that it sees no reason why the decision of the Moscow Conference should not have been carried out, especially as the Norwegian Government, according to information at the disposal of the Soviet Government, also felt that the agreement hi question should be referred to the European Advisory Commission. The Soviets state further that questions of administration in liberated territories, as the experience in Italy has shown, are complicated and require careful study. The Soviet Government says that it is unable to agree with the proposal that the Anglo-Norwegian agreement be signed at once and not be considered by the European Advisory Commission.
The British Embassy here, in a note of January 9, communicated text of the draft Anglo-Norwegian agreement to the Soviet Government for its information. In that note the British Embassy stated that the draft had been drawn up prior to the Moscow Conference and expressed the hope that pursuant to decisions at the Moscow Conference the question of broad policy to be pursued in Norway and other liberated territories would soon be the subject of discussion at the European Advisory Commission. The British Embassy referred also to discussions which were being carried on with the Netherlands and Belgian Governments with the view of drawing up similar agreements. In a further note of January 23, the British Embassy informed Molotov that the British Government had intended to refer the Anglo-Norwegian agreement to the European Advisory Commission [Page 24]but that as the Norwegian Government was pressing for signature and as the United States Government did not consider it necessary that the Norwegian agreement be brought before the European Advisory Commission, the British Government was, in deference to the United States Government, prepared to use diplomatic channels. The British reserved the right to bring their draft resolution presented at the Moscow Conference on the subject of liberated territories before the European Advisory Commission.
It is, of course, unfortunate that this difference of view has developed with regard to procedure for handling the Norwegian agreement and that the Soviets seem to have gained the impression that we have wished to avoid carrying out a procedure which they consider was agreed to at the Moscow Conference. It appears this same question will come up in other similar situations. Without criticizing the British presentation, I believe it is better in matters of this kind if in the future we should be instructed to present our position with full explanation.
Sent to Department; repeated to London.
- Viscount Halifax, British Ambassador in the United States.↩
- The information contained in this paragraph was transmitted by the British Embassy to the Department in an informal note dated March 11, not printed, from the Secretary of the British Embassy (Wright) to the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Dunn).↩