124.616/3–1348: Telegram

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


478. Before I discuss question with Molotov, which expect to do early next week, wish to be sure my understanding coincides with that of Department as I am kmsucu [not?] clear after Deptel 271, March 11. Therefore, request specific clarification on following:

Does Department realize fully that unless additional houses can be obtained for clerical staff (a most unlikely prospect) we cannot continue maintain present actual strength, and that one of major considerations reorganization proposals Embdesp 134, January 31,1 is to give minimum satisfactory living quarters to each clerk.
Is it understood that even if additional satisfactory housing can be obtained, it is still impossible to maintain our present strength unless we can also obtain a very large increase in our customs exemption quota or, failing this, unless Department is prepared to pay enormous duty charges and to give our junior personnel a further large increase in living allowances.
Is it fully realized that in event diplomatic ruble exchange rate is eliminated cost of maintaining present actual or authorized strength will be extravagant and difficult to justify, particularly since believe this strength is unnecessary for effective operations under principle outlined Embdesp 134.
In event Department unable “persuade” Army to accept proposed curtailment MA staff, is Department prepared to support my own refusal to accept more Army officers than specified Embdesp 134 on basis inability to house and care for them.

Unless these questions are settled one way or another within a matter of days, forward planning housing will become impossible and assignment replacements must be entirely and promptly reconsidered. Please advise earliest.2

  1. Not printed.
  2. The Department declared in reply in telegram 282 on March 15 that it “fully understands drastic personnel reorganization [of the] Emb[assy] will be necessary unless additional housing and customs concessions obtained”; that it would “meet increased cost in event elimination dip[lomatic] exchange rate to extent necessary for effective operations under principle [of] streamlining” under point (c); and that the Army “has accepted proposed curtailment MA staff”, although official confirmation was still being sought. (124.616/3–1348)