The Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson) to the Under Secretary of State (Acheson)


Doc Matthews told me of his conversation with you today and of your reference to Harriman’s telegram to you on May 11 about bases.58 It takes forever to get anything out of the files so I am sending you our file copy of a telegram to the Delegation in Paris which I drafted and you signed quoting Harriman’s telegram to you and your reply to Harriman.

I think Doc told you of my conversation yesterday afternoon with the Secretary on this subject. The Secretary says that the next move is up to the British; that in his letter of April 19, 1946 to Halifax he made a proposal to which he has had no reply and the next move is up to the British. The Secretary points out that he had two conversations with Bevin on the subject in Paris but that nothing tangible resulted from those conversations. Incidentally the Secretary praised Bevin’s attitude in the conversations and he said that he felt that Bevin had made a real effort to get action along the lines of the Secretary’s proposal of April 19.

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I talked to Donald Maclean of the British Embassy today and told him that I had talked to the Secretary and had learned from him that Mr. Byrnes feels that the next move in this matter is up to the British. I told Maclean that there had been two conversations between the Secretary and Mr. Bevin in Paris, as he knew, but that these conversations had not produced the tangible results which the Secretary had in mind in his letter of April 19 to Halifax. I added that I wanted to be sure that they understood in the Embassy that as the situation now stands the Secretary feels that the next move is up to them.

I told Maclean that we have already received word that an amendment to the loan bill will be presented in the House paralleling the McFarland amendment59 and that it [was?] precisely to forestall such an amendment that the Secretary made the proposal set forth in his letter to Halifax. I repeated what I had said to Balfour60 and Maclean earlier that it is not our purpose to try to high-pressure the British Government on bases and that all that we are trying to do is to persuade them to take their bows now for the kind of agreement on bases and islands which we will undoubtedly reach in the ordinary course of events in the next few months. Maclean said that he fully understood this and that Lord Halifax had sent a strong telegram to the Foreign Office urging that the British go along with the Secretary’s proposal. He said that they would send another telegram now to the Foreign Office pointing out that the next move in the matter is up to the British.

My suggestion is that we wait a day or so to see what we hear from the British. If we don’t hear anything by Monday or Tuesday, it might be advisable for you to take up with the Secretary Harriman’s telegram to you of May 11 which apparently he did not see in Paris.

John Hickerson
  1. See telegram 2312, May 14, to Paris, p. 43.
  2. Senator Ernest W. McFarland of Arizona in his amendment to the appropriations bill for the United States loan to the United Kingdom sought to obtain permanent title to the 99–year leased Atlantic bases. The amendment was defeated. For documentation regarding the negotiations of the loan, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. vi, pp. 1 ff.
  3. John Balfour, British Minister in the United States.