The Secretary of State to the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Bevin)8


The United States Government has received the memorandum dated May 9, 1946 from the British Government concerning the Anglo-American Oil Agreement.

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The importance of the Oil Agreement and the advantages to be secured therefrom are fully appreciated by the United States Government. It is most anxious that the Agreement be ratified by the Senate at the earliest possible moment and has for some time been seeking the accomplishment of this result. However, parliamentary considerations have prevented immediate consideration of the Agreement by the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate. Chief among these has been the progress of the British Loan through the Congress. It was our judgment that this should not be complicated by concurrent consideration of an Anglo-American Agreement on petroleum. As soon as the House of Representatives shall have acted upon the British loan, it is our purpose to take up the matter of the Oil Agreement with the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and to press for hearings at an early date. The hearings, however, may not take place before the Senate adjourns and may have to await the reconvening of the Congress.

In that event a delay of several months might occur. Should such a delay occur the United States Government would appreciate an expression of opinion from the British Government about the desirability of utilizing this interval to develop plans, which could be put into operation at a relatively early date, for the generalization of the Oil Agreement in accordance with its own terms as set forth in paragraph 4 of the Preamble and in Article III of the Agreement. An expression of opinion would also be appreciated on the most desirable manner in which a multilateral undertaking in the field of petroleum might be integrated into the United Nations organization and on the procedural steps which that organization might take in order to expedite the convocation of an international conference for this purpose.9

This inquiry is made in the hope that any further parliamentary delay in the way of bringing the Anglo-American Agreement into force may not further postpone the negotiation of a multilateral agreement on petroleum which was contemplated by our two Governments in the negotiation of the Oil Agreement.

  1. Original sent to London under instruction No. 196, July 3. The Ambassador was requested to reply to the Foreign Office “along the lines of the enclosed memorandum”. (800.6363/5–946)
  2. In a speech delivered at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 30, 1946 the Chief of the Petroleum Division (Loftus) aired publicly the Department’s still tentative thinking along these lines. Extracts of this speech are printed in the Department of State Bulletin, August 11, 1946, pp. 276 ff.

    In an instruction circularized to 35 diplomatic missions and 2 consular posts on October 24 the Department noted that “some ideas” expressed in the Loftus speech “encountered considerable criticism from the petroleum industry. …” (800.6363/10–2446).