867.24/12–2944: Telegram

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

2427. Department’s 1208, December 21.5 During the past 3 weeks I have had numerous conferences with the Secretary General of Foreign Office with a view to concluding the mutual aid agreement. It is becoming increasingly apparent since discontinuance of Lend-Lease deliveries to Turkey earlier in the year, Turk Government is no longer interested in concluding a mutual aid agreement and in [Page 913] consequence continues to resort to delaying tactics with the object of ultimately avoiding signing an agreement. Without burdening Department with a detailed recital of the … objections raised by Foreign Office to terminology, interpretation, translation, et cetera, suffice it to say the Turks adhere to their objection to an exchange of notes dealing with possible delivery of foodstuffs and other supplies for use of civilian population. The argument advanced by Secretary General at our meeting yesterday was no foodstuffs are being provided for use of civilian population of Turkey, that Turk Government has no intention of requesting same and in consequence proposed exchange of notes is no longer necessary even assuming it was desirable when drafts were prepared.

In connection with foregoing, I appreciate the necessity of preserving paragraph 4 of proposed note either in the note or by inserting same in text of the mutual aid agreement itself and believe it may be possible to persuade the Turks to incorporate paragraph 4 in text of the mutual aid agreement if the proposed exchange of notes is abandoned. While I also appreciate the abandonment of paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of proposed notes might handicap Department’s negotiations for mutual aid agreements with other countries of the Middle East, the fact remains that failure to press for conclusion of a mutual aid agreement with Turkey over a period of nearly 3 years and until comparatively recently, during most of which time an agreement could have been concluded with relative ease by reason of the continuing deliveries of Lend-Lease war material, has resulted in a situation whereby in my considered judgment we would be better advised to take what we can get than to be left without any mutual agreement at all. Furthermore, although I am not informed on the subject, I am under the impression the other countries of the Mid-East have benefited or are benefiting from Lend-Lease deliveries of foodstuffs which is not the case with Turkey and are, therefore, less likely to raise objections to proposed exchange of notes.

… Cajoling the Turk Government into signing a mutual aid agreement covering past deliveries which are safely in their physical possession and after deliveries have ceased promises to be a difficult enough task without endeavoring to wring from it an exchange of notes the provisions of which are intended to serve as a model for other Mid-Eastern countries.

As result of a rather sharp exchange of words with the Secretary General yesterday, I succeeded in persuading him to tentatively accept the mutual aid agreement as now drafted and translated but without the exchange of notes referred to above. I have no way of forecasting whether he may not recede from this position as he has done before if the discussions continue. Under the circumstances I [Page 914] have no alternative than to recommend that I be authorized to endeavor to incorporate paragraph 4 of the proposed note into the text of the mutual aid agreement and to sign agreement as so amended without the exchange of notes if I am unable to persuade the Turk Government to accept paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the proposed [note. If] Department accepts my recommendation I trust it will be understood that I shall continue the struggle to have the exchange of notes accepted up to the last moment and will only sign the mutual aid agreement without exchange of notes if and when I am convinced that further insistence on exchange of notes may mean a refusal by the Turks to sign any mutual aid agreement covering past deliveries.

In view of fact that negotiations are continuing from day to day and it is my intention to take matter up with the Prime Minister in the course of next 2 or 3 days, I request an urgent reply.

  1. Not printed.