Memorandum by the Secretary of State


Memorandum of Conversation

Mr. Wright called on me at his request late this afternoon. He stated that Lord Halifax had to leave for New York to give a speech, but the matter he wished to discuss was so important that he had asked Mr. Wright to come in his place.

Mr. Wright then talked for a few minutes, stating that he had been very much hurt by my statement on Italy, and that it had caused great embarrassment; and that the Prime Minister and Mr. Eden were aroused. He went on to say that a debate would start in Parliament on Friday about Greece and he wished to call attention to that part of my statement which had referred to other liberated countries. Mr. Wright pointed out that London was very [Page 270] disturbed as it was felt that my remarks on Italy also referred to Greece.

Mr. Wright then asked if he might read to me a message from Mr. Eden, which was one page long. He declined to leave it with me as he said it was very personal. It said, in brief, that the British had been surprised and hurt that I would make a statement that had been so damaging to them at home and abroad. The Prime Minister had remarked that he had been wounded by the State Department’s communiqué. In his message Eden spoke of the manner in which the British had supported our position on Italy at Quebec and afterward, which had been hard for them to do but which they had done out of loyalty to the President.

Mr. Wright thinks that the Prime Minister and Mr. Eden were in a difficult position facing this debate on Friday, and it would be most helpful if I could make a statement promptly. He asked if I were going to have a press conference tomorrow (Thursday) and if so, if I might issue something along the following lines: a question could be asked at the press conference as to our position on Greece. I could reply that we are in close touch with the British, relative to Greece; that I had noted Churchill’s statement in Parliament, which I could then quote, in which he spoke of the importance of democratic principles prevailing; after which I could add that we saw eye to eye with the British on this whole question of Greece.

I then explained that in our views, all we had done was to reiterate the policy which had been agreed upon by our respective governments at Moscow, and that there was nothing new in my statement. We had been somewhat put out by the action they had taken without consulting us, and I offered it as my opinion that the whole incident should never have occurred. Mr. Wright immediately agreed that we should have been consulted, but he urged that when differences arose they should be settled in private and not in public; and he thought that we should have consulted the British before releasing my statement. I then referred to American public opinion which had questioned our policy and to adverse comment in Congress, and remarked that my statement of Tuesday had been well received in these circles.

I then told Mr. Wright that I would like to send a message to Mr. Eden tonight; he said that he would send one himself, to confirm that I would be making a helpful statement sometime before the debate started on Friday. I then asked Mr. Wright to see Mr. Dunn and Mr. Matthews before returning to the Embassy.

E[dward] S[tettinius]