Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Aviation Division (Morgan)

Mr. Underwood called to discuss aviation matters and particularly the Embassy’s note of June 21st on the subject of landing rights for United States planes in the Near and Middle East. He said they were not too happy about the language of the note, as they felt it was unsatisfactory to us. I said I would not characterize it as unsatisfactory, it did not go as far as we had hoped, but if that was as far as they were willing to go I did not think that we were disposed to pursue the matter further, at least at this time; we could wait and see how things worked out.

Mr. Underwood then said that part of their trouble was due to the fact that they had had numerous reports from the Near East to the effect that the United States was really seeking exclusive rights at some of these airports and that was giving them very real concern. I told him that there was not a word of truth in such a rumor, that not only had we not asked for exclusive rights at any of the airports but that such action would be at total variance with our established and well publicized policy. We believed in a reasonable freedom for international operations with a minimum of restrictions on frequencies and the rights to pick up and discharge traffic. We had shown by accepting the five freedoms document34 that we were ready to give [Page 73] the same treatment to all other nations. We thought that international aviation should be conducted in this spirit without exclusivity and without discrimination.

Mr. Underwood said that this was his understanding, but they had repeated reports to the contrary and he wondered if we could not give them some formal assurances.

I suggested that if the Embassy wished to write us a note saying that they had understood from informal conversations that that was our attitude but would like to have a formal confirmation thereof, I thought the note could be answered in a manner which would completely allay their suspicions.35

  1. The International Air Transport Agreement.
  2. There is no record in Department files of a communication from the British Embassy on this matter.