Learn about the beta

811.24559B/1–247: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Denmark
top secret

4. Top Sec for Eyes of Minister2 only. Unless you perceive objections please call on Rasmussen in the very near future and say you have been informed of the substance of my conversation with him in New York.3

You may say you know your Government attaches highest importance to a satisfactory solution of Greenland problem and will, of course, be interested in learning Rasmussen’s personal reaction to the possible courses of action which I outlined to him; that you are not in any sense pressing him to reply now but when he has had time to consider the matter further you will be glad to transmit his thoughts to me.

It might be well to take advantage of your visit to lay confidentially before Rasmussen the info re Spitsbergen contained in paragraph 5 of my tel 924, December 24.4 The subject might be introduced by your [Page 658]saying that during your stay in Denmark you have gained the impression that some segments of Danish public opinion might be fearful of a definitive long-range solution along one of the lines I suggested lest such action inspire a Soviet initiative with respect to, for example, Spitsbergen.5 You might then proceed as outlined in paragraph 5 of my tel 924 and then go on to say that on the basis of this very confidential info which you have received from your Govt, the thought has occurred to you that Rasmussen might wish to defer taking any steps that might result in leaks and consequent publicity, which might make his own situation more difficult, until after Soviet-Norwegian negotiations re Spitsbergen materialize or at least until the possibility of such negotiations become public. You might say that this thought has come to you as a consequence of your understanding that I have not made formal proposals to him but have only expressed in an exploratory way thoughts re a possible solution which could be made the basis for later more formal discussions after Rasmussen shall have had an opportunity to express his personal reactions.

I think it advisable that at this time you not go beyond limits of foregoing instructions in your conversation with Rasmussen.

Byrnes
  1. Josiah Marvel.
  2. In a conversation with Danish Foreign Minister Gustav Rasmussen on December 14, 1946, in New York, Secretary of State Byrnes emphasized the vital importance of Greenland to the security of the United States. Secretary Byrnes suggested that American security needs might be met by an agreement giving the United States long-term rights to construct and maintain military facilities in specified areas of Greenland or by a treaty with Denmark under which the United States would undertake to defend Greenland from aggression and would secure the right to maintain such military installations there as would be necessary. Secretary Byrnes also suggested that possibly the best solution might be the outright purchase of Greenland by the United States under an agreement concluded in accordance with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. Secretary Byrnes’ suggestions were detailed in a memorandum handed to Foreign Minister Rasmussen at the close of the December 14 conversation. Foreign Minister Rasmussen appeared to regard the Secretary’s proposals as more drastic than may have been anticipated, but he agreed to give them careful study. Secretary Byrnes indicated that the United States was willing to continue the status quo in Greenland while a solution was being sought. (811.24559B/12–1646)
  3. Not printed; in addition to the information concerning Spitsbergen, it transmitted the memorandum handed to Foreign Minister Rasmussen on December 14, 1946, and described in the preceding footnote (811.24559B/12–1646).
  4. For documentation regarding the attitude of the United States concerning reported demands by the Soviet Union on Norway with respect to Spitsbergen and Bear Island, see pp. 1003 ff.