Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Roosevelt

You are no doubt aware that Ambassador Harriman has been carrying on informal talks with Soviet officials in a preliminary effort to obtain from them information on the needs of Soviet economy for postwar construction and the best means by which we could be of assistance to them.

This is of such political importance as an indication of our sincere desire to be of assistance to them that it is felt it would be desirable more or less to formalize these preliminary steps. Moreover, the increased Soviet requests for capital goods which cannot easily be justified under Lend-Lease makes it imperative to study ways and means of satisfying this demand and making appropriate temporary financial arrangements to assist the Soviets in getting these goods.

Apart from this immediate problem Ambassador Harriman has suggested that we endeavor to obtain as accurate information as possible from the Soviet authorities regarding their longer term needs.

In order to study and handle this problem here it is felt that it would be advisable to set up an Interdepartmental Committee for this purpose.

As you will note from the attached draft telegram to Ambassador Harriman,36 it is suggested that this Committee be set up under a State Department chairman and that the Department of Commerce, the Treasury Department, the Tariff Commission, the Foreign Economic [Page 1047] Administration and perhaps the War and Navy Departments should be asked to nominate representatives to the Committee.

Please indicate if you approve of this suggestion.

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. Telegram 246, infra.