857.014/7–2345: Telegram

The Ambassador in Norway (Osborne) to the Secretary of State

277. British Ambassador was recently asked from Potsdam whether secrecy should still be maintained on matter dealt with my 265, July 1941 and was later informed member US delegation had raised question. Foreign Minister Lie told Collier he had no objection to Anglo-American discussion but hoped matter would not be discussed with Russians unless he himself could be present.

Today Collier and I given copies of English translations of (a) Norwegian note to Molotov dated March 31 last and (b) draft joint declaration dated April 9 for joint defense of territories in question submitted by Norwegians.

Latter is proposal mentioned by Lie (my 204, July 5) as still unreplied to.

Besides information given starting [Storting] in secret session matter has been communicated secretly for background purposes to press. Nothing has appeared in print.

Copies both documents being airmailed.42 Suggest I can send copies to Secretary Byrnes43 by Army plane if desired.

Substance both documents follows in Part 2 this telegram.

Following is substance of document (a) mentioned Part 1 this telegram: Molotov had informed Andvord44 January 25 that Soviet Government had most attentively studied Norwegian Ambassador’s statement January 25 that Norway proposes with reference to Bear Island and Spitsbergen, to negotiate on joint military defence and Norway proposes in re proposals worked out by the two Governments, to consult Allied Governments. Soviets were in agreement with Norway’s proposal and on above-stated basis wished to propose negotiations simultaneously re: exploitation by Russia and Norway of coal and other resources on Spitsbergen; also the necessity of abrogation of February 9, 1920 treaty.

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Norway (Norwegian note to Molotov continues) accepts Soviet’s proposals on starting negotiations based on this communication but points out final agreements must receive Storting approval pursuant to constitution. Norway also wishes make following points:

1. Military defense of territories joint concern Norway and USSR. Defensive measures shall accord with International Security Organization’s arrangements. All permanent installations on land to be provided by Norway.

Two countries will observe equality in all points on military affairs and will make agreements on permanent installations, composition of forces, questions of command, etc., and in costs.

Fact that defense is undertaken in special interest of either will not in itself imply other country is belligerent.

2. Since no representations ever received that regulations re coal and other resources unsatisfactory Norway would like information in advance on questions Soviet might wish to raise.

Norway presumes abrogation 1920 treaty will be carried out according to international law, but countries fighting against Norway or USSR or their Allies need not be consulted.

Substance of document (b) is as follows: Norway and Soviets believe neutralization established in February 9, 1920 treaty impracticable and continued adherence contrary to two countries’ interests; desire an arrangement for use of territories for military purposes which will protect two countries’ military security and be regional link of organization for international security; have agreed on following principles pending consultation with certain Allied governments and Sweden and subject Storting approval: Then follows verbatim with one minor change points listed under point numbered 1 in document (a) concluding paragraph which closely follows point numbered 3 in document (a). Point numbered 2 in that document is not mentioned.

  1. Not printed; it reported that Foreign Minister Lie had heard nothing more from the Soviet Government regarding Spitsbergen and believed that the Russians would not again approach the Norwegian Government on the matter until after the Potsdam Conference, where the matter might be taken up (857.014/7–1945).
  2. Neither printed; they were transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Norway as enclosures to despatch 158, July 28, 1945 (not printed). At the instruction of the Department, a copy of this despatch and its enclosures were transmitted to the Secretary of State at Potsdam on July 26, 1945 (857.014/7–2645).
  3. James F. Byrnes, who became Secretary of State on July 3, 1945, accompanied President Truman to the Potsdam Conference.
  4. Rolf Otto Andvord, Norwegian Ambassador in the Soviet Union.