Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Clayton) to the Secretary of State
Subject: Danube Negotiations
The British and French Governments have requested that the Danube problem be placed on the agenda at the Foreign Ministers meeting in Paris41 and that the United States take the initiative in proposing the establishment of a provisional regime for the Danube composed of the USSR, the UK, France, the US and the riparian states. In this approach, the UK and France have recommended that the United States not base its claim for participation on its position as an occupying power as this principle might prejudice British and French participation in a permanent regime.
The policy of the State Department with respect to the Danube has been set forth in CC–93a attached hereto as Annex I. The Department’s position with respect to a provisional regime for the Danube is set forth in CC–94 attached as Annex II. The Department’s position with respect to treaty provisions for the Danube is set forth in the Department’s telegram 2760 of March 28 to London for Mr. Dunn attached as Annex III.42[Page 238]
In these documents the Department’s position has consistently been that:
- US claims participation in a provisional regime for the Danube on the basis of our position as an occupying power.
- US supports the reestablishment of permanent international river commissions to guarantee the general principles of freedom of commerce and navigation for international waterways but does not seek permanent membership on specific river commissions on which the United States is not a riparian country.
- US should seek to implement this long-range policy and support the commercial interest of non-riparian states in general through the United Nations machinery.
- US should state its long-range objectives without prejudice to the Anglo-French claim for participation on European waterways commissions as non-riparian states.
In light of the above policy, this Government has been unwilling to take the initiative with respect to the establishment of any particular river commission although at Potsdam and again at the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in London last September, the US delegation did propose the acceptance of general principles to govern waterway regimes and proposed the establishment of emergency regimes for European waterways.
It is clear from the above statements and from the positions taken by the British and French that there is a difference in the long-range objectives of the United States on one hand and the British and French on the other with respect to European waterways and also that these positions might vary even with respect to the establishment of provisional regimes which might very well set precedents for permanent regimes.
In light of these fundamental differences between the United States and the Anglo-French positions it would be most unwise for the United States to take the initiative in proposing the solution to either the provisional or the permanent regime questions prior to the establishment of a full and complete agreement with the British and French as to details of the proposed principles to cover both a provisional and a permanent regime. Since the United States does not intend to seek permanent membership on the operating commissions, our taking the initiative on the waterways commissions could easily put this country in the position of being the champion of the British and French position vis-à-vis the Soviets over an issue in which this Government itself is not the directly interested party.
In light of the above considerations, it is believed that the United States should actively advocate the principle of the establishment of international waterway regimes and should indicate its desire to participate in any provisional regimes in which our interests as an [Page 239] occupying power are concerned. It should not take the initiative on behalf of the British and French for proposed specific arrangements. Thus by giving support to the principles and avoiding taking sides on the riparian vs. non-riparian issues, the United States might well be in a position to effectuate a compromise agreeable to both the Soviets and the British and French.
It is recommended that:
- The British and French Governments be informed that we are not in a position to take the initiative on the Danube question in the forthcoming Paris meetings.
- We should carefully explain to the British and French the reasons for this decision and indicate a willingness to discuss with them the fundamental differences in our positions with a view towards endeavoring to reconcile such differences and work out the possible proposals which might be acceptable to all four major powers.
- The Danubian problem was not formally considered at the Second Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers; for documentation on this session see volume ii.↩
- Annex III not attached here, but for text of telegram 2760 of March 28, see p. 232.↩
- Neither annex attached here; but see text of Department’s memorandum of March 15 to the British Embassy, p. 230.↩
- Not printed.↩
- The full text of telegram P–3605 is printed on p. 312.↩