800.515/4–445: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant )

2607. Discussions have been held between the Department and the British Embassy in Washington with respect to the Safehaven program and to the method of bringing our Safehaven objectives to the attention of the neutrals, particularly Sweden and Spain. We have considered, in these discussions, the proposed statement of Safehaven objectives which the Department transmitted to you with respect to the Swedish negotiations,41 the Department’s proposals for incorporation of these objectives in a note to be presented at a high diplomatic level in Spain, and the British suggestion that an immediate approach along briefer and more general lines be presented to the Spanish Government at a high diplomatic level. The following are the points which seem relevant here after full discussion between the Department and the British Embassy. This telegram has been jointly drafted.

It would appear that there has been some misapprehension as to the attitude taken by the United States Government on presentation of the Safehaven objectives. The Department’s position is that [Page 869] a full and complete statement of all of our Safehaven objectives, both those which we might expect to obtain in the immediate future and those on which we might expect some resistance, should be presented at the outset. In the case of Sweden, this seems desirable because of the fact that Boheman has requested such a statement. In the case of Spain, this seems to the Department to be desirable because it will give to the Spaniards at once a full statement of those objectives which we consider important with respect to Safehaven, and will eliminate as far as possible presentation of a series of new requests from time to time.
On the other hand, the Department is convinced that those persons who may conduct the negotiations or who may discuss such diplomatic representations as may be made, should be given full discretion with respect to the negotiations which they may carry on with the interested neutral governments. The Department is of the opinion that the persons negotiating on the technical level, as seems likely in the case of Sweden, or in the first instance on a high diplomatic level followed by negotiations on a technical level, as is suggested in the case of Spain, should have full discretion to gauge the measure of resistance which may be encountered with respect to certain of our objectives and to withdraw, for the present, those of these objectives which they may consider would stand in the way of achieving an immediate desirable result on the balance of the objectives. In other words, the Department’s position is that although a full statement of our objectives should be transmitted to the neutrals, our negotiators should have ample authority, as was the case in the Swiss negotiations, to come away with the best bargain which may appear to them to be possible.
In further amplification of this position, it may be stated that we would consider as the hard core of our Safehaven objectives, beyond which our negotiators should not retreat, the following points:
Subscription in principle to Bretton Woods Resolution VI.
An immediate freeze of all Axis assets or assets held for the account of the Axis or its nationals, within the particular territory concerned.
Agreement to freeze satellite country assets, should the US and UK so request.
Immediate inception of a census of all assets designated under sub-paragraphs (b) and (c) above, when and if applicable. We assume that such a census would be the inevitable consequence of any adequate freeze.
It is believed that if this position is adequately explained, it will be apparent that the differences between our position and that which has been expressed by the British will not seem great. The Department is prepared to introduce what seems to it sufficient flexibility into our tactics by giving discretion to the negotiators but [Page 870] prefers to have a full statement as indicated above presented at the outset of any negotiations either on the diplomatic or technical levels.
We are prepared as soon as the British are ready to authorize an immediate diplomatic approach jointly by the British and United States Ambassadors in Madrid. We would suggest that in this approach the Ambassadors should, as indicated above, present our full desiderata but, at the same time, make it clear that we expect immediate implementation of the points made in paragraph (3).
On the question of Foot’s letter,42 and the actual statement on the Safehaven objectives which should be presented, discussions are going forward and another telegram to follow shortly will be sent.43 With respect to the USSR and France, see our separate cable.44
We feel that those making the presentation may bear in mind and accordingly modify the presentation to reflect the more immediate urgency of certain of our objectives (such as the freeze). This should not, however, be done in such a way as to detract from the importance which we attach to all of our stated objectives.

Sent to London, repeated to Madrid and Stockholm.45

  1. See footnote 21, p. 862.
  2. See telegram 2950, March 22, 1 p.m., from London, supra.
  3. Telegram 2608, infra.
  4. Telegram 2609, April 4. not printed; it conveyed the Department’s position, to be discussed with the British, that the Soviet Mission in Sweden and the French Missions in both Sweden and Spain should be informed of any impending approaches to these neutral governments but that it should be made clear that there would be no postponement pending the comments of the French and Soviet Missions (800.515/4–445).
  5. As telegrams 573 and 615, respectively.