740.00119 EW/6–2046: Telegram
The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Czechoslovakia (Steinhardt)
770. Dept has received note from Czech Embassy dated June 559 requesting restitution of 43 Czech vessels in the possession of US military [Page 262] authorities on upper Danube between Linz and Regensburg. Current US policy is to defer restitution of all Danubian vessels pending outcome of negotiations on resumption of navigation in Vienna. Dept believes these vessels have a bargaining power vis-à-vis Soviets. Czech representative on ECITO has indicated informally no need for immediate restitution and that major concern is that craft be maintained in good condition pending ultimate return.
Dept interested your view on (a) Czech control of barges if returned; (b) probable use to which they would be put (i.e. coal movement Bratislava to Vienna, or on lower Danube?); (c) evidence that Czech supports US view of freedom of navigation. Info your despatch 653 March 2560 very helpful. Sent to Praha; repeated to Vienna, and Moscow.