867.24/12–3044: Telegram

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

2437. In conversation with Foreign Minister6 this morning, he informed me that at the request of the Secretary General of the Foreign Office he had discussed with the Prime Minister the mutual aid agreement and proposed exchange of notes dealing with the possible delivery of foodstuffs and other supplies for the civilian population of Turkey. Saka said the Prime Minister had expressed himself as undoubtably opposed to the proposed notes on the grounds that the Turk Government was not seeking and did not intend to seek Lend-Lease foodstuffs or other supplies for its civilian population from the United States and would purchase through commercial channels and pay in dollars for any foodstuffs or other supplies it might acquire in the US. He said the Prime Minister had expressed the view that the proposed notes might open the door to an unwarranted interference by the US with Turkey’s trade, commerce and foreign exchange, and that he could find no justifiable relationship between the proposed notes and a mutual aid agreement covering past deliveries.

Saka said that Saraçoğlu had referred to Lend-Lease deliveries by the US to Turkey as having consisted almost exclusively of war material intended to strengthen the Turkish Army on behalf of the Allied front, and that in consequence Turkey’s position in respect of past Lend-Lease deliveries of war material differed substantially from that of other countries which had received Lend-Lease aid by reason [Page 915] of their war requirements or to meet other exigencies. He said the Prime Minister had remarked that the Lend-Lease deliveries of war material to Turkey had been made primarily for the benefit of the Allies by strengthening the Turkish Army to resist possible German aggression and for no other purpose.

Saka concluded with the statement that the Prime Minister had told him that parliamentary leaders with whom he had discussed the matter had informed him that while the mutual aid agreement would be approved by Parliament the exchange of notes would not, as the notes would be regarded as implying an impending shortage of foodstuffs in Turkey. He said the Prime Minister felt that presenting the proposed notes to Parliament from which such an implication could be drawn would not only encourage further hoarding of foodstuffs with a resultant increase in the already much criticized high cost of living but might even precipitate a government crisis.

I gained the impression that the Turk Government, including the Prime Minister, is reluctant enough to sign the mutual aid agreement at this late date after deliveries of war material have ceased and is determined should it find itself hard pressed to sign the same to refuse to sign simultaneously anything even resembling an agreement in respect of possible future purchases of foodstuffs or other supplies for the civilian population.

In view of the foregoing I renew the recommendation contained in my 2427 of December 29 that I be authorized to abandon paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the proposed notes and to endeavor to incorporate paragraph 4 thereof in the text of the mutual aid agreement.

  1. Hasan Saka.