840.50 Recovery/3–2149: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Austria


251. Legtel 734 [138?] Feb. 181 and P 3040 Feb 17,2 Dept concurs in suggestion final decision be deferred pending thorough exploration and coordination views Army, ECA, and Leg. Dept regards fol considerations discussed informally with ECA as important:

General principle that since Aust must in time take over food procurement, advantageous for them to begin acquire experience while it can be done with safeguards in both field and Washington allowing suspension operation if serious difficulties. A primary Aust motive to save on hard currency expenditures for shipping. US policy to assist Aust toward maximum exercise sovereign rights, subject only to necessary security measures.
Agree important avoid use food for polit purposes in election campaign.3 Consequently initial changes might be limited to Washington end rather than field. Considered desirable to plan transfer procurement and shipment responsibilities to begin on or about July first, with possibility postpone date if conditions this spring would make transfer untimely. Present understanding that US Agri Dept likely continue grain procurement in which case responsibility transferred this item limited to shipment. Supplies procured after July first would begin arrive Aust about end Aug and be available for use ration period beginning Oct 12.
Deptel 107 Feb 8,1 phrase “our strong view” based on pressing representations made by Aust officials here for early relinquishment Army food procurement. Discussions with Leopold Apr 1948 and Sagemeister Dec 1948 made strong case for assumption procurement and shipment responsibilities by Aust govt.
Careful consideration has been given points one to seven P 3040 Feb 17. Reference to ECA controls not clear to us, since main controls believed to lie in program determination and counterpart schillings [Page 1274] rather than in connection shipment and distribution supplies. Possible ECA may wish retain function planning food import program as for 48–49. Re 2(a) through (f), especially 2(b), question of reserve supply might be covered by special arrangement near future. 2(g) raises substantive point which would be covered by timing of turnover.
Para 3 may point to need consideration which are most favorable ports and extent Trieste should be given monopoly. Under any conditions Trieste appears likely to receive bulk of business, but if savings can be effected on certain items through other ports question should be examined.

Para 4 stresses importance avoiding any increase Sov capabilities. Our view is that increased food availabilities make it less powerful polit weapon and situation after next harvest may be further eased. There is accordingly less cause for belief that Sovs might create new or increased difficulties in equitable distribution food from their zone. However if special danger envisaged, measures might be taken to increase reserves.

Paras 4(e) and (f) not clear, since Allied Comm would still consider food plan and ECA programs would still determine exports to Austria. Concur in first sentence para 5 but believe that turnover contemplated would not prevent continuation Allied Council supervision.

Dept aware Aust food procurement and shipment might not be as efficient as Army’s and that occasional shortfalls might develop in ration. Advantages Aust acquiring experience plus retention decisive influence in our hands through bilateral agreement and control over funds and availabilities believed outweigh disadvantages and risks.

  1. Not printed, but see footnote 3 to telegram P 3040, February 17, p. 1264.
  2. Ante, p. 1264.
  3. For documentation relating to the United States interest in the Austrian national elections, October 9, 1949, see pp. 1206 ff.
  4. Not printed, but see footnote 3 to telegram P 3040, February 17, p. 1264.