740.0011 EW/1–2745: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State (Grew) to the Secretary of State
u.s. urgent

To the Secretary of State from Clayton.1

Reference Russian attitude towards Agreement on shipping control. On August 5, 1944 Belgium, Canada, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, United Kindom and the United States of America signed an Agreement on Principles looking towards continued control of all merchant shipping until after the war with Japan.2

Because of its position as a maritime nation, special consideration was given to the accession of Sweden to this Agreement. In the negotiations with respect to Swedish accession, it has become apparent that Russia has intimated to Sweden that it would prefer Sweden not to adhere to the Agreement. This will probably not deter Sweden from signing, but Sweden is concerned about Russian attitude in light of general relations with the Soviet Union.

The Norwegian Government-in-Exile, a member of the shipping control, is worried also about the unfavorable Russian attitude towards the Shipping Agreement. Trygve Lie, Foreign Minister of Norway, has been to Stockholm to discuss the matter with Mr. Gunther, [Page 539] Swedish Foreign Minister, and subsequent thereto went to Moscow to discuss the matter.

Those of our people who have been working on the Agreement tell us that Lord Leathers, head of Ministry of War Transport at London, has made several attempts to explain the Shipping Agreement to Russian officials in London. He believes that the full information has not been forwarded to Moscow. Ambassador Winant is reported also inclined to this view. The consensus is that the Russians are suspicious of any arrangements which look like a combine of other powers with post-war implications, and are uncertain of their ability to maintain position in negotiations relating to problems with which they have had relatively little experience. Another factor which may affect the Soviet attitude is the participation of the Polish Government-in-Exile in the Shipping Agreement.

It is believed that a joint approach by the United States and Great Britain should be made directly to Stalin to fully explain the Agreement, its intents and purposes, to clear up any misunderstandings. Through Mr. Harriman, Russia was kept informed of the preliminary negotiations and of the Agreement reached.

Admiral Land is familiar with this matter.

  1. In the text of this message in the Defense Files, the words “from Grew” follow at this point, the words “This is Message 8” are at the end of the first paragraph, and the words “(Allstate-Horseshoe)” are at the end of the third paragraph.
  2. For the text of this agreement, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1722, or 61 Stat. (4) 3784.