111.16 Stettinius, Edward R., Jr./153: Telegram

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

871. Personal for the Secretary and the Under Secretary. Reference your 557, March 11, 8 p.m. I feel that I should explain to you in more detail what I had in mind in connection with my suggestion that I go to England for a few days while Ed33 is there, during the latter part of his visit.

In the first place before making the suggestion I gave considerable thought to the possible Soviet reaction. I had in mind discussing it with Molotov and believe that he will recognize its importance and will in no way object to it. If I found any adverse reaction I would of course communicate this and possibly cancel the trip.

Your cable is not clear to me whether you fear adverse reaction here or at home. I would have thought that the importance of our discussions from the long-range standpoint in our Soviet relations would more than offset any temporary reaction in the United States and that a way could be found to make a satisfactory explanation. Whenever we have had a bilateral discussion with the British the question of why the Soviets were not present has always been raised in any event. It would seem to me that the people of the United States would recognize the importance of Ed’s getting my information for his consideration and the reasonableness of my taking advantage of his presence in London to communicate it to him.

I perhaps should have emphasized that because of the character and importance of the military matters with which I am personally involved with the Soviets, I do not see daylight ahead for the long trip home so that I look upon the talks with Ed in London as the only one I will have the opportunity to have for a considerable period.

We are in a critical moment in our relations with the Soviet Union and it is my feeling that mutual exchanges with Ed will help clarify the issues and contribute to their eventual solution.

Your cable however brings to mind another question. From my knowledge of the developments of our military relationships with the British I know that we have found it essential to have frequent meetings because of the differences that have arisen even with the British after a very few months. I have thought for several weeks that the [Page 953] first opportunity should be used to bring about triangular discussions with the Soviets and British again. It now occurs to me that Ed’s trip to London might be used as an occasion to have perhaps very informal triangular discussions if an important Soviet official can be induced to meet him there. I doubt whether Molotov would come but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Vyshinski34 would be sent if it were urged that he do so and a sufficiently clear reason put forward. I mentioned this yesterday to the British Ambassador.35 His preliminary reaction was most favorable. I can see no harm and some good in the extension of the invitation even if not accepted.

I believe also that I may not have made clear the importance I place on my contemplated talks with Ed. In the first place I have not been able and I doubt if it is ever possible to report by cable fully and clearly the atmosphere and background in Moscow. This is partly due to the fact that I am increasingly out of touch with the thinking at home. In this connection I have in mind all of the political subjects which are causing difficulty. In addition we are about to negotiate the fourth protocol36 and plans for aid for reconstruction. I have certain ideas as to how this might be handled in such a way as to be helpful in our overall relations and to avoid pitfalls that I see ahead. I feel I can only put them forward in personal discussion. Here again so much depends upon what the thinking is at home to certain aspects which it is difficult to interchange by cable.

We are setting the foundations for our long-term relationship with the Soviets and I can only say that I believe it would be a great mistake if I were not permitted to make this trip to London. I regret that the military considerations do not permit me to go to Washington when Ed returns as this would be much more satisfactory. I earnestly ask therefore that you reconsider your message to me.

I would appreciate also receiving your reaction to the idea of the invitation to a member of the Soviet Government, possibly Vyshinski, to come to London during the latter part of Ed’s visit. I have not sufficient information on the plans for Ed’s trip to make a recommendation. I do feel strongly however that the first occasion possible should be used for another tripartite discussion as I believe this is the only way we can keep from drifting apart during this formative period and when deep-seated suspicions of long standing exist.

  1. Edward R. Stettinius, Jr.
  2. Andrey Yanuaryevich Vyshinsky, First Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  3. Sir Archibald Clark Kerr.
  4. In regard to wartime assistance from the United States for the Soviet Union, see pp. 1032 ff. The fourth (Ottawa) protocol was finally signed on April 17, 1945. For text, see Department of State, Soviet Supply Protocols, pp. 89–156.