693.0031 Tibet/8–648

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

Participants: Mr. Shakabpa, Leader of the Tibetan Trade Mission
Mr. Chhankyim } Members of the Tibetan Trade Mission
Mr. Pangdatshang
Mr. Surkang
Mr. Ratna, Interpreter of the Tibetan Trade Mission
The Secretary
Mr. W. Walton Butterworth, Director for Far Eastern Affairs
Mr. Fulton Freeman, Division of Chinese Affairs

Mr. Butterworth brought the members of the Tibetan Trade Mission to call on me this morning at which time they presented me with photographs of the Dalai Lama and the Regent of Tibet, three letters and a greeting scarf. I thanked them cordially for these gifts and expressed pleasure that they had come such a distance to visit the United States. I recalled that my previous acquaintance with representatives of Tibet had been in China in the summer of 1946 when a Tibetan mission visited Nanking.

Mr. Shakabpa, Leader of the Mission, explained through the interpreter that the primary purpose of the Mission’s visit was to improve trade relations between Tibet and the United States. He stated that Tibet has in the past exported a considerable amount of wool and furs to the United States, but that up until recently Tibet has felt no need for U. S. dollars as there have been no imports from the United States. At the present time, he continued, Tibet is desirous of importing from the United States gold and silver bullion, machinery and other merchandise. He stated that the Mission was proceeding to New York in a few days to investigate the possibilities of importing these items and requested that I put him in touch with the appropriate government officials in that city.

Mr. Butterworth replied that the Department of Commerce was taking steps to inform its representatives in New York of the Tibetans’ impending visit. He added that the Department of State would be pleased to communicate with Mr. Allan Sproul, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, informing him of the Mission’s plans and suggesting that he extend them any appropriate assistance.

I enquired at this point whether Tibet was in possession of U. S. dollar exchange to be used in the purchase of the commodities desired. Mr. Shakabpa replied somewhat indefinitely (perhaps due to the interpretation) stating that the Government of India, through [Page 776] which all exports to the United States passed, had never permitted Tibet to receive U. S. dollar exchange but had effected conversion into rupee exchange. In reply to my further inquiry, however, Mr. Shakabpa assured me that he would prepare a letter for the Department setting forth Tibet’s foreign exchange situation and explaining exactly what assistance was desired. I stated that the Department would be pleased to receive such a letter.

In response to my pertinent question, Mr. Shakabpa informed me that the Mission had traveled for 20 days on horseback on leaving Lhasa; that they had then proceeded by automobile and train to Calcutta and Delhi; that they had flown thence to China where they spent approximately five months; and that they had proceeded from Shanghai to Hong Kong where they enplaned for Honolulu and San Francisco.

As the Mission was taking leave, I presented Mr. Shakabpa with a small gift for himself and a photograph which I had inscribed to the Dalai Lama with a request that it be transmitted on their return to Tibet.