740.00112 European War 1939/10546: Telegram

The Ambassador in Turkey (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State

678. Department’s 312, April 8.20 I called on Foreign Minister yesterday and presented to him text of a note21 almost identical with that set forth in Department’s cable under reference. British Ambassador presented an identic note to Foreign Minister same day.

Numan accepted note in a friendly spirit indicating a cooperative state of mind. He remarked that reaction of Turkish Government to our note would be one way, if it was a friendly request to cooperate, but that reaction would be quite different if it was intended as a “summons or a threat”. He then referred at length to difficulties Turkey [Page 826] had encountered during past 2 years in obtaining vitally needed commodities from the United States and Britain, commodities which notwithstanding an acute need Germany had provided. He observed that he had no particular desire to trade with Germany if for no other reason than that he realized traffic with Germany would abruptly cease in relatively near future and if he could count on deliveries from the United States and Britain which had [been?] marked by their unreliability in the past he would much prefer the United States and Britain as Turkey’s source of supply. He then expressed his inability to understand why the United States and Britain had not long since taken action to relieve him from his “dilemma” by destroying means of transportation between Turkey and Germany and said such action would make his position much easier. From this and other remarks I gained impression Numan is desirous of cooperating with us and he would go far to meet our wishes provided we could guarantee prompt delivery of commodities which Germany has been delivering to Turkey. If the “special project” is carried out in very near future it would materially facilitate Numan’s desire to cooperate with us as he informed me that he is under almost daily pressure from Germans to make deliveries in payment for deliveries already made by Germany. I gained impression that Numan might not be unresponsive to suggestion of a war trade agreement such as has been entered into with other neutral countries provided terms are not unreasonable and that [it?] is presented to him as a voluntary act of cooperation by Turkish Government and not under pressure or resulting from threats.

At close of our talk Numan said he would give careful consideration to our note and discuss subject with me further.

Shortly after visits of British Ambassador and myself Numan granted an interview to the United States and British correspondents and made a statement to them which is incorporated in my next numbered telegram.22

  1. Not printed, but see footnote 18, above.
  2. See the Ambassador’s telegram 689, April 15, 12 p.m., p. 827.
  3. Telegram No. 679, not printed.