Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Henderson)1

top secret
Participants: The Secretary.
Mr. Loy Henderson, Director, NEA.
Lord Inverchapel, British Ambassador.
Mr. Herbert M. Sichel, First Secretary, British Embassy.

The British Ambassador, accompanied by Mr. Sichel, First Secretary of the British Embassy, was received at their request by the Secretary this morning at 9 o’clock. The Ambassador informed the Secretary that, upon instructions from his Government, he had come to hand him the two aide-mémoires attached hereto,2 one relating to Greece and the other to Turkey.

After reading the aide-mémoire relating to Greece, the Secretary stated that he realized that the matter treated in it was of the utmost urgency and importance, that it would be discussed at once with the President and the Chiefs of Staffs, and that he hoped that a reply could be made in the near future.

After examining the aide-mémoire relating to Turkey, the Secretray stated that what he had said with regard to the first note also applied to the second; that the question of Turkey would also be given the urgent attention of the United States Government. He added that the problem with regard to Turkey seemed to be somewhat different, however, from the Greek problem. The Ambassador agreed, adding that the Greek problem was undoubtedly the more urgent of the two; nevertheless, it seemed wise to the British Government that the problem of Turkey should not be neglected.

The Secretary said that it was his understanding that the Russians had made no move with regard to Turkey for some time and asked if the Ambassador had any ideas regarding the reasons for the Russian [Page 44] silence. The Ambassador said that in his opinion no foreigner knows why Russia takes or fails to take certain actions. Therefore, as an honest man, he must admit that he is not in a position to explain what is responsible for the present Soviet attitude towards Turkey. He could make guesses, but his guesses would be of no more value than those of any other person.

The Ambassador emphasized the fact that neither the Greek nor the Turkish Government had as yet been informed of the decision of Great Britain that it could no longer extend financial assistance to Greece and Turkey. He added that it probably would be disastrous: to give such information to the Greeks or the Turks unless they could be informed at the same time that the United States Government had definite plans to aid them.

L[oy] W. H[enderson]
  1. Initialed by the Secretary of State.
  2. The aide-mémoire of February 21, pp. 32 and 35.