Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs (Matthews) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: As you know, Major General Hurley and Mr. Donald Nelson, who are going to China as the President’s personal representatives, plan to travel to Chungking via Alaska, Siberia and Moscow. In conversations with Mr. Durbrow13 on August 19 and Mr. Abbott14 on August 23, General Hurley stated that in Moscow he wishes to consult with Foreign Secretary Molotov15 and if possible with Marshal Stalin16 to acquaint them with the purposes and objectives of his trip to China. The General added that he hoped to get useful information regarding the Soviet attitude towards China and suggestions as to the line which he should adopt in his dealings with Chiang Kai Shek.

Quite apart from the impression which General Hurley’s proposed visit to Moscow will create on Chiang Kai Shek and other Chinese officials, it is felt that it would not be in accord with General Hurley’s position as personal representative of the President for him to consult with Russian officials for the purposes which he has indicated.

General Hurley is under the impression that the President has approved of his visit to Moscow and of his consultation with Molotov, but I venture to question if the President fully understood General Hurley’s intentions. Could you ascertain whether the President desires Hurley to take up any such question with the Soviet officials. We feel it would be most improper for him to discuss Chinese affairs in Moscow. If he goes to Moscow we should inform Harriman17 fully as to the purpose of his visit.

H. Freeman Matthews
  1. Elbridge Durbrow, Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs.
  2. George M. Abbott, of the Division of Eastern European Affairs.
  3. V. M. Molotov, Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Chairman of the Council of Commissars of the Soviet Union.
  5. W. Averell Harriman, Ambassador in the Soviet Union.