Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Grew)
The British Ambassador called on me today at his request.
He reviewed the problem of our economic relations with Switzerland and reiterated the British position that since stern tactics had failed to achieve results, it would be the better part of wisdom now to allow a reasonable amount of commodities to move into Switzerland [Page 772] over the French frontier in the belief that this would cause the Swiss still further to meet our wishes in cutting off their supplies to Germany. The Ambassador said he understood that there were differences of opinion between ourselves, FEA and the War and Navy Departments, and he asked me whether a decision for our future policy had yet been reached. He said that his Government attached great importance to Swiss services in connection with our prisoners of war and felt that in return for these services Switzerland deserved considerate treatment.
I said to Lord Halifax that we were studying this problem daily, but that I was not yet in a position to say that a change in policy had been determined. I said I understood that negotiations would take place in Switzerland, and it was questionable whether we could let down the bars on commodities moving into Switzerland until the Swiss should agree to accord a quid pro quo in a reduction of exports to Germany. I assumed that this whole problem would be the basis for such negotiations as might take place.
Lord Halifax urged that we proceed with the matter as soon as possible, to which I replied that we were living with the problem daily.