740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–3048: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Smith ) to the Secretary of State

top secret   us urgent

1474. As agreed with British and French representatives I made initial presentation to Mr. Zorin at 6 p. m. today.1 His attitude can only be described as uncompromising. He replied that the absence of Mr. Molotov on vacation prevented for the time being the granting of the request which I had just made. He then said that there was no indication in the aide-mémoire which I handed him of any change in the position of the US or of any subjects which would make profitable a discussion with Generalissimo Stalin and Mr. Molotov. However, he would transmit my request to his government for their consideration. [Page 996] I replied that my presentation had been brief since the general position of the US had already been made clear. It would be re-defined and amplified during the discussions which I proposed.

I then reminded him that the written word as embodied in the exchange of formal diplomatic notes was very rigid but that it was the opinion of my government that in less formal conversations formulas might develop which would go far in resolving the present grave situation. I stated that I recalled my first conversation with Mr. Stalin 2 and the cordiality with which he assured me that I could come to him at any time and that while I had refrained from requesting interviews in the past except on matters of first importance, I considered the present situation the gravest which had arisen since I came to Moscow two years and a half ago. Nevertheless my government felt, despite this gravity, that an informal exchange of views would improve prospects of a solution.

Mr. Zorin replied that he could only say that the position of the Soviet Government had also been clearly defined in its note of July 143 but that he would, as previously stated, present my request to his government.

I did not make any request for an estimate when reply might be expected and refrained from giving any other indication of eagerness or anxiety on our part.4

Department please pass to London as 105, Paris 221, Berlin 262.

  1. In telegrams 1467 and 1470, July 30, from Moscow, neither printed, Ambassador Smith reported that he had requested an appointment with Foreign Minister Molotov but had been informed that Molotov was absent on vacation. Smith and his British and French colleagues decided, therefore, to arrange an interview with Deputy Foreign Minister Zorin and to present the agreed aide-mémoire (see the teletype conference of July 26 and footnote 2 thereto) to him (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–3048). In his telegram 1475, July 31, from Moscow, not printed, Smith reported that Ambassador Chataigneau had seen Zorin at 7 p. m., and Frank K. Roberts (Foreign Secretary Bevin’s personal representative in Moscow during the absence of Ambassador Peterson) had seen Zorin at 10 p. m. The results of these later conversations were largely the same as Smith’s, although Zorin apparently grew more talkative and less uncompromising (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–3148). Roberts’ meeting with Zorin is briefly described in Cmd. 7534, p. 21.
  2. A report on Ambassador Smith’s first conversation with Stalin, April 4, 1946, is included among the reports on developments of significance within the Soviet Union of concern to relations with the United States in Foreign Relations, 1946, volume vi .
  3. Ante, p. 960.
  4. For a further account of this meeting with Zorin, see Smith, Moscow Mission, p. 231.