The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State
[Received 2:30 p.m.]
136. On morning January 22 Soviet Embassy took initiative in informing Embassy orally that appropriate Soviet authorities had been notified with regard to courier vessel which sailed from Tsingtao on January 22, for Dairen. Soviet Counselor went on to state, however, that it was Soviet recommendation that future courier trips make use of commercial vessels inasmuch as Dairen is commercial port. He further stated that in future it was “desirable” that American Ambassador, Moscow, inform Soviet Foreign Minister18 “in advance” of date departure of courier for Dairen and not make notification through Embassy here to Soviet Embassy, Nanking. When asked what length of time he had in mind by term “advance”, Soviet Counselor replied it was his personal opinion that a period of from 1 to 2 weeks would be adequate. It will be noted that this declaration is in almost identical terms with that made by Soviet Consul, Dairen, to Benninghoff (ref relay from Dairen 13, January 18).
Soviet Embassy was reminded that this service had been called into being because of wholly inadequate communication facilities afforded our Consul General at Dairen. It was also pointed out that LCI 1090 had, at considerable trouble, been completely divested of armament so that it could not in normal sense be considered as a warship. Soviet Embassy was informed that this Embassy was in no position to modify procedure employed in maintaining communications with Consul General at Dairen and if a change was desired matter should be raised formally in Washington or Moscow.[Page 488]
Soviet Embassy maintains that terms of agreement between Chinese and Soviet Govts regarding Dairen19 do not provide for entrance of naval vessels into commercial port. Soviet Embassy was informed that American Embassy considered diversion of a commercial ship over long distance solely to carry a courier to Dairen was an unnecessary and unreasonable requirement when a vessel adequate for purpose was constantly stationed approximately 24 hours sailing distance away.
Embassy assumes that Dept if it wishes present procedure of using unarmed LCI for courier service modified, it will so instruct. Next voyage is scheduled tentatively 3 weeks hence.