761.67/12–3046: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Turkey

top secret

26. Embtel 1293 Dec 301 and 16 Jan 10.2 We have been giving careful consideration to ideas outlined by Erkin, We are inclined to believe it would be definitely unwise just now to suggest regional agreement between US, UK, USSR and Turkey for defense of Straits in time of war. Our position thus far has been that Turkey is and should be primarily responsible for defense of Straits and that if Straits at any time should become object of attack or threat of attack by aggressor resulting situation would constitute threat to international security [Page 9] and would clearly be matter for action on part of Security Council. In case Turkey should suggest regional agreement of type envisaged by Erkin Russians would be almost certain to hail suggestion as admission that system founded on Montreux Convention and United Nations does not provide adequate security for Straits and to insist that logical remedy is system resting on arrangement among Black Sea Powers rather than so-called regional arrangement among Great Powers.

They could also point out that regional defense system of Americas is limited geographically to American Republics.

Erkin apparently overlooks fact that if Soviets really have apprehensions regarding security of Straits their fears are most certain to be directed against US or Great Britain or coalition of powers acting under auspices of United Nations since without aid of US or Great Britain it is inconceivable that in near future any powers would have the strength to endeavor to penetrate or gain control of Straits. Suggestion therefore of regional pact including US and Great Britain would not satisfy Soviet Union since Soviet Union obviously would not believe such pact in certain circumstances would prevent US or Great Britain in time of war from making use of Straits to its disadvantage. It seems clear to us that Russians will not be content with any kind of arrangement with regard to Straits which will not enable them unilaterally to assume control of Straits whenever it seems advantageous to Soviet Union for them so to do.

If you agree with our views in this regard you may in your discretion inform Erkin that we do not believe that advancement of suggestion for regional arrangement similar to that outlined by him would serve any constructive purpose in allaying Russian pressure on Turkey. We are in accord with analysis of Moscow’s 43 Jan 8 (rptd Ankara as Moscow’s 2) and agree with conclusions last paragraph thereof.3

Sent Ankara; rptd Moscow, London.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vii, p. 898.
  2. Not printed.
  3. In telegram 68, January 29, 7 p.m., from Ankara, Ambassador Wilson reported that he had talked with Mr. Erkin along the lines expressed in this telegram and concluded that the idea was killed for the present (761.67/1–2947).