Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson)

top secret
Participants: Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstierne, Ambassador of Norway
Mr. John D. Hickerson, Director for European Affairs
Mr. Benjamin M. Hulley, Chief, NOE

The Ambassador came at his urgent request to present the attached aide-mémoire requesting as full details as possible about the North Atlantic Treaty for use by Mr. Lange in a meeting of Scandinavian Prime, Foreign and Defense Ministers called suddenly for January 2 at or near Oslo.

I told the Ambassador that speaking unofficially I had to admit that this request came at a somewhat inopportune time. He agreed and said that it was a surprising change to him since Norway had previously indicated that it would hardly be ready to consider this matter before February 1 and we had indicated that this might be too late; whereas, now the positions are reversed. On receiving cable instructions to make this representation he had cabled back to Oslo commenting that information on this line was expected within about a week in the ordinary course and it was his opinion that it was not opportune to take it up now. His Government had replied that it was necessary to do it now for reasons which could not be stated. It was evident to him that the request bad not grown out of the report be had made of his conversation with me December 23,1 but must have arisen from events in Scandinavia. His guess would be that some development in the Scandinavian military discussions was the cause, and that Mr. Lange desires ammunition to use in answering Swedish criticisms of the Atlantic Pact.

I repeated the general developments in prospect which I had outlined December 23 to him and said that I would endeavor to give him as much as I could sometime tomorrow so that Nygaard can take it with him on Friday as instructed by the Norwegian Foreign Office. Some of the questions simply could not be answered now but I would do my best. I showed him a ticker release on the subject of Congressional [Page 345] soundings from which he could see that our own consideration of the matter had to progress a little further. I also mentioned that the President had not yet seen and approved what we had done. Regarding his request to see Mr. Lovett also, I said I hoped it would be possible to arrange that.

John D. Hickerson


The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the basis of the views expressed by him to His Excellency the Secretary of State, General George C. Marshall, in Paris, September 29, 1948,2 is at present considering the problems arising out of the discussions now in progress between the United States, Canada and the Brussels Pact States with a view to concluding a North Atlantic Pact. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Halvard M. Lange, has now initiated the holding of a confidential meeting in the nearest future between the Prime, Foreign and Defence Ministers of Norway, Denmark and Sweden, in order to ascertain definitely the position of the Danish and Swedish governments in this respect.

With this meeting in view, it would be most essential for the Norwegian Foreign Minister to be informed as fully as possible about the principal provisions of the Draft North Atlantic Pact. One of the present difficulties is that, especially in Sweden, but also to some extent in Norway, it is being maintained that one does not know the realities of the proposed Pact and what safeguards and obligations would be involved for member states. In case that it should not be possible to have at this time the text of the proposed draft, any information of a general character concerning the Pact would be of the greatest interest to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and it would be particularly appreciated to obtain, if possible, answers to the following questions:

What is the proposed duration of the Pact?
To what extent is the United States prepared to assume obligations to guarantee the other members of the Pact?
Would Norway as a member of the Pact be given an opportunity to obtain on lenient financial terms the material needed to build up her Defence?
Could Norway obtain in the nearest future such material as mentioned under 3?
Might an arrangement be worked out by which Norway could [Page 346] obtain military equipment of British design, such as aircraft and radar, of which Norway is already in possession of certain quantities?
What would be the obligations on the part of Norway as a member of the Pact? Would the question of establishing military bases on Norwegian territory be raised by the United States?
Can any indication be given as to the strategic importance the United States attach to Scandinavian territory and waters, especially Norwegian territory and waters?

  1. Hickerson recorded this meeting in a memorandum of conversation dated December 23. According to the memorandum, Hickerson was unable to provide Morgenstierne with formal or detailed information beyond the fact that meetings regarding a North Atlantic pact were going on daily and that the Ambassador could reassure his Government that the plan was to arrange for Norway to have an opportunity to comment on the treaty draft and make appropriate suggestions for altering it. (Memorandum by Hickerson not printed: 840.20/12–2348.)
  2. See telegram 5130, September 30, from Marshall in Paris which described this meeting, p. 258.