857.014/12–1146: Telegram

The Chargé in Norway ( Huston ) to the Secretary of State


724. Foreign Minister Lange informed me today he had two talks with Molotov2 in New York recently (Embtel 716 December 53) during which Molotov pressed for early negotiations regarding Spitzbergen and Bear Island on basis of exchange notes of January 1945 (despatch 158 July 26, 19453). Lange indicated his willingness to proceed with negotiations since his government considers it cannot disregard commitment made by a previous government in 1944 and 1945, but declared he could not actually enter into such negotiations before consultation with his government and the Storting.

Lange says he maintained position that (a) Norway considers itself bound by 1920 treaty, (b) Norway cannot enter into abrogation of treaty except in consultation with other signatories, (c) any agreement regarding common defense is subject to approval by Security Council and (d) entire procedure must be governed by provision of UN charter notably article 43.

This question has not been considered by government nor discussed in Storting since Foreign Minister’s return from New York although Foreign Affairs Committee has been informed that early consideration in secret session will be necessary in order “to determine line to be taken”. As present Storting ends its work December 14 question will not receive parliamentary attention until after new Storting is convened January 11. While Lange believes proposal for negotiations must be kept secret during government and Storting consultations, he does not wish to maintain secrecy indefinitely and believes that Norway [Page 1004] should not actually engage in negotiations “without letting Norwegian people know what we are talking about”. He had hoped, he says, that the Spitzbergen question could be allowed to “sleep indefinitely” but he is now convinced that early negotiations cannot be avoided and may take place toward end of January or beginning of February.

Lange endeavored see Secretary Byrnes just prior his departure from New York but as this was not possible he had prepared memorandum regarding his talks with Molotov and given it to Ambassador Morgenstierne with instructions to inform Secretary fully in Washington at earliest opportunity. He has so far heard nothing on subject from Morgenstierne and hopes that, if he has not already done so, he will be able to see Mr. Byrnes at early date for his [this] purpose.

Sent Dept 724; repeated Moscow 26.

  1. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.