The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador of the Soviet Union (Panyushkin)

The Acting Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and has the honor to refer to the Embassy’s note no. 57 dated March 15, 1948 in answer to the Department’s note of February 27, 1948 which stated that although the Government of the United States favors the calling of a conference to work out a new convention regarding the regime of navigation of the Danube at the earliest practicable time, it believed it inadvisable to set a definite date at this time and therefore suggested that the Four Powers agree jointly to extend to the end of 1948 the period of time during which the conference would be called.

The United States Government is of the opinion that because of Austria’s recognized position as an important riparian state, its participation in the conference would be highly advantageous. The Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has stated in its note under reference that the decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers of December 6, 1946 did not envisage the obligatory participation of Austria in a conference. Nevertheless, the United States believes the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics shares the United States view that Austria’s participation in such a conference is desirable and therefore is confident that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will agree that the Austrian Government should be invited to send representatives to the conference in a capacity to be determined at the time of the joint issuance of invitations.

The United States has noted that the Soviet Government is desirous of holding a conference in Belgrade at an early date. The United States Government is agreeable to the holding of such a conference as soon as possible after the Four Powers have agreed to the necessary arrangements.

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In view of its position that discussion of the regime of navigation for the Danube should commence at an early date, it is assumed that the Soviet Government is prepared to discuss practical arrangements to give effect, in the stretches of the river system under Soviet occupation or being used as a Soviet line of communication, to the principle that navigation shall be free and open to nations, vessels of commerce, and goods of all states on a footing of equality, which principle has been incorporated in the Treaties of Peace with Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary. The United States for its part would be prepared to discuss such arrangements for that portion of the Danube now within its zones of military occupation.

It is the view of the United States that arrangements for, and the work of, a conference could be facilitated by an exchange of views in Washington by the representatives of the four governments. These representatives could consider conference arrangements and preliminary proposals concerning the work of the conference, including the preparation of a joint invitation to the Yugoslav Government to act as host and the joint issuance of invitations to the participating countries.

Copies of this note are being sent to the British and French Ambassadors in Washington.1

  1. The British Ambassador on April 23, 1948, sent a copy of a note addressed by his government on the same day to the Embassy of the Soviet Union in London. In this note the British government stated that it was prepared to join in calling a postponed Danube conference as soon as practicable, and found the choice of Belgrade acceptable as a meeting place. It believed that an invitation should be given to Austria to attend the conference. It supported the suggestion of the United States for an exchange of views in Washington, by the representatives of the four governments. The British government further held the opinion that the recommendations of the conference should be communicated to the four governments for their acceptance; but, should the Danube conference fail to reach agreed recommendations on a new régime for the river, then the British government reserved its rights under the existing Danube instruments. (840.811/4–2348)