871.6363/1–1345: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Harriman )

261. ReEmbs 55 January 5. The Department would like you to reply to Vyshinsky’s letter of January 4 at an early date expressing this Government’s gratification that the Soviet Government agrees with us over the need for rapid rehabilitation of the Rumanian oil industry and has accordingly ordered the cessation of removals. You should then reaffirm this Government’s unwillingness to accept the Soviet contention that the removed equipment can be properly described as “war material”’ under Article VII of the Armistice and paragraph 2 of the protocol (reEmbs 122 January 1357) and re-state the Department’s position as set forth in its 2629 November 8 and 2848 December 18,58 emphasizing the following points: (a) Since the rehabilitation of the Rumanian oil industry is a matter directly affecting the Allied war effort in several theatres, measures concerning the provision and disposition of equipment essential thereto should be taken not unilaterally but only after agreement among the three principal Allied Governments; (b) it should be determined by agreement what equipment already taken should be returned, as essential to the maintenance of production, and what equipment should remain in the Soviet Union; (c) in the case of equipment taken from American-owned companies which is not returned, such companies should receive compensation, either from the Rumanian Government, in the event that the property is credited as reparations payments under Article XI of the Armistice, or from the Soviet Government.

Berry’s telegram of January 24 (Bucharest’s 60 to Department repeated to you as 9)59 states in reply to the Department’s inquiry of January 13 (Department’s 22 to Bucharest repeated to you as 84)60 that in his opinion a tripartite commission of experts should be able to perform a valuable service. In your letter to the Soviet Government [Page 649] you should renew the proposal for such a commission, which seems to have been ignored in the Soviet reply of January 4. The Department is anxious to secure Soviet agreement to this proposal as a means of implementing its position set forth in the preceding paragraph as well as for the reasons given in Berry’s number 60. We feel that this would afford the best means of reaching agreed conclusions on the entire question. Only then will there be an agreed factual basis for discussion on the possible return of some of the equipment and on the question of compensation to the companies for that which is not returned (reurtel 242 January 2661).

The factual data sent to you by Berry (Bucharest’s 11, January 27 to Moscow repeated to Department as 6962) may be of use to you in drafting your reply to Vyshinsky. If this report has not arrived in Moscow, you may delay your communication to Vyshinsky for a reasonable period while awaiting its arrival.63

A paraphrase of this telegram is being given to the British Embassy.

Sent to Moscow; repeated to Bucharest.64

  1. Not printed; in it Ambassador Harriman recommended that he be instructed to inform the Soviet Government that the United States could not accept Vyshinsky’s interpretation contained in his letter of January 4 that pipes and other oil equipment which the Germans supplied to the oil enterprises in Rumania were included in the meaning of war material as defined in the protocol to the armistice agreement with Rumania (871.6363/1–1345).
  2. Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 256 and 283, respectively.
  3. Not printed; it expressed the view that a tripartite commission of experts to study the situation and to make suggestions could perform a valuable service (871.6363/1–2445).
  4. Not printed; it stated that the Department desired further factual information from the Mission in Bucharest regarding the removal of oil equipment from Rumania before sending fresh instructions to Ambassador Harriman on the subject (871.6363/1–545).
  5. Not printed; it reported that the Embassy in Moscow still lacked adequate information regarding the removal of oil equipment from Rumania (871.6363/1–2645).
  6. Not printed.
  7. Telegram 439, February 16, from Moscow, reported that the factual data had been received from Berry, but because of its tabular nature, had not been used in the letter sent to Vyshinsky on February 16 along the lines indicated by the Department (871.6363/2–1645).
  8. Repeated to Bucharest as telegram 56.