The Commissioner in India (Merrell) to the Secretary of State
[Received 5:11 p.m.]
24. Deptel 18, January 7, 5 p.m. Secretary External Affairs4 and private secretary5 to Viceroy6 have on several occasions indicated to me great interest of Govt of India and HMG in raising status of Indian Agent General.
This is naturally a most difficult subject for me to comment on in view of the fact that the Dept may believe that I consider myself a [Page 78]candidate for Minister which I do not but I feel that I must now offer my opinion which is as follows:
- If the Office of Chinese Commissioner is changed to Legation it would be most embarrassing to this mission to retain present status, particularly since we have never endeavored to conceal the fact that HMG’s attitude has been responsible for our “quasi-diplomatic” status.
- If it is learned that US Govt is stumbling block, adverse criticism will be incurred on all sides.
- I believe that hesitancy on ground that such action would be criticized as a stop-gap or delaying measure is not well founded. On balance, I think reaction of Indian Nationalist Group would be one of gratification rather than the reverse and would make for atmosphere more favorable to a political solution.
- In addition, raising status of missions would constitute further step toward independence of GOI from Whitehall and pave way for projected appointment of Indian member [minister?] for external affairs. This in my opinion would facilitate conduct of relations between US and India.