855.01/82a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the United Kingdom (Bucknell)

3847. For Phillips.

British Embassy has advised the Department of certain conversations between the Foreign Office and the Soviet Ambassador in London on the subject of civil affairs agreements to be made by the [Page 37] British with the Belgian, Norwegian and Netherlands Governments. We understand from the British Embassy that Gousev has advised Foreign Office that Soviet Government has no objections to the signing by the British of the Belgian and Netherlands agreements, but that he has requested the British not to sign the Anglo-Norwegian agreement until the Soviet Government has negotiated a parallel agreement with the Norwegians. We understand that Foreign Office has advised Gousev that the signing of the Anglo-Norwegian agreement will be postponed temporarily but that the British intend to sign the Belgian and Dutch agreements early next week.
The British Embassy also states that Foreign Office considers it desirable to issue press release concerning the three civil affairs agreements, and the text of the proposed release has been submitted to the Department.84 The draft states that identical agreements have been concluded by the United States and United Kingdom with the Belgian and Netherlands Governments, and it describes the nature of the agreements in general terms. It then goes on to say that the Soviet Government has been consulted concerning the arrangements and has agreed. It closes with a statement to the effect that a similar agreement has been negotiated with the Norwegians but that signature is being temporarily deferred in the light of the Norwegian-Soviet negotiations. If you do not have copy of the proposed text, we suggest you request one from Foreign Office.
The Department has received no comments from the Soviet Embassy on this matter, and we can only assume that the Soviets expect that the British will arrange with us to synchronize our action in respect to the three agreements. After consulting the military authorities, the Department has advised the British Embassy that the United States Government is prepared to go along with the British proposals, that is, (a) to authorize the signing of the agreements with the Belgian and Netherlands authorities in the immediate future, (b) to withhold signing of the Norwegian agreement temporarily pending the outcome of the Soviet-Norwegian negotiations, and, (c) to make the press release proposed by the British immediately upon the signing of the agreements with the Belgian and Netherlands authorities, provided, however, that the text of the release is cleared by the British with the Belgian, Dutch, Norwegian and Soviet authorities in London. The British Embassy is advising Foreign Office in this sense.
Combined Chiefs of Staff are also advising S.H.A.E.F.85 that we approve the proposals put forward by the British. It might be [Page 38] helpful if you would communicate with S.H.A.E.F. and the Foreign Office to make sure that the signing dates for the Belgian and the Netherlands agreements are synchronized. Will you also make sure that the text of the proposed press release is cleared by the British with the four Governments concerned.
  1. For the statement regarding civil affairs agreements with Belgium, the Netherlands, and Norway, released to the press on May 16, see Department of State Bulletin, May 20, 1944, p. 479.
  2. Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force.