740.00119 EW/2–646

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Bevin) to the Secretary of State1


You will remember that at the recent Moscow Conference M. Molotov2 raised the question of the control of the Great Belt. I told M. Molotov that no British control was at present being exercised in those waters either directly or through the Danish naval authorities, although the Royal Navy were at present engaged there in mine-sweeping operations in accordance with an international scheme in which the Soviet Union were participants. I continued that the control of the entrances to the Baltic was at present, as it had been for many years before the war without any complaints from anybody, in the hands of the riparian States. This meant that, in practice, both merchant ships and warships of all States had been able to pass freely in and out both in peace and war whether neutral or belligerent.

It seems to me very desirable that the principle of free passage through the entrances to the Baltic should be maintained and confirmed. With the defeat of Germany it should be possible to establish this principle generally for the ships of all nations.

I should like, therefore, to consider with you how best our two Governments could pursue a common line in any future discussion on this subject, and whether it would be desirable to place our views on record in any agreed communication to the Soviet Government. In that case, it would be for consideration whether France and the two limitrophe States, Sweden and Denmark, should not be associated with any such communication.

  1. The Secretary of State was in London as United States Representative, First Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, First Part.
  2. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union. For documentation on the Moscow Meeting of Foreign Ministers, December 16–26, 1945, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 560 ff.