42. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant) to the Secretary of State 1


  • Visit of Mr. Robert Thayer

Mr. Robert Thayer, our Minister to Rumania, has had an unusual number of contacts with top Rumanian officials, including the Prime Minister [sic] Gheorgiu-Dej, and has been encouraged by them to believe that a détente in US-Rumanian relations is possible. The Rumanians have expressed to the Minister their feeling that increased trade between the two countries is possible and have suggested the exchange of trade delegations. They have presented Mr. Thayer with a list of products they would like to obtain from the U.S., with particular emphasis on industrial and agricultural machinery. The Rumanians apparently would like to obtain a license from du Pont to manufacture nylon and dacron, saying this would make them independent of the Soviet Union for textiles.

On the other hand, the Rumanians have attacked the broadcasts of VOA and of Radio Free Europe as a detrimental factor in relations with the U.S. Mr. Thayer reports that there are no signs of Rumanian leaders breaking away from the Russian type of Communism or from Soviet control of their basic policies.

In response to inquiries to us from Mr. Thayer regarding US policy toward Rumania, we have stressed the following. Normal relations cannot be looked for until the Rumanian regime changes its pattern of conduct. We doubt that a real increase of trade could be arranged, and probably least of all on a government-to-government basis. Rumania has little to offer the United States, and we question whether the Rumanians are interested in the purchase of sizable amounts of non-strategic goods. It is also questionable whether American industrial firms would be willing to license their processes and extend credit. It is true that the Rumanians are interested in US hybrid corn and might also take some US lard products, with possibilities of payment in Rumanian cement on a barter basis. We have no objections to normal peaceful trade under the new Department of Commerce general licensing policy, but we doubt that the US Government could or should be willing to go further under present circumstances.

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It is suggested you may wish to make the following points to Mr. Thayer by way of guidance:2

The development of trade between the two countries depends on a normalization of Rumanian–U.S. relations. This would involve the removal of travel restrictions on US diplomatic personnel, permission for free access to claimants to American citizenship and the provision of adequate housing for the US Legation staff.
The Rumanian regime cannot legitimately object to the factual reporting of VOA. Until it conforms to accepted standards of international and humanitarian conduct, it must expect foreign broadcasts of the kind issued by Radio Free Europe (with which the US has no official connection) to continue. As an initial step in breaking down ideological barriers, the US would like to reestablish US information activities in Bucharest on a modest scale, with reciprocal facilities for the Rumanian Legation in Washington.
Should the Rumanian Government accept the foregoing proposals, the US might be willing to assign a commercial attaché to Bucharest and to receive a Rumanian commercial attaché in Washington, provided our commercial attaché was given adequate accommodation and permission to travel freely in Rumania.
  1. Source: Department of State, EUR Files: Lot 59 D 233, Rumania. Confidential Drafted by Beam and Stevens.
  2. No substantive record has been found of the discussion between Thayer and Dulles which this memorandum anticipates. According to Dulles’ Appointment Book, Thayer met with the Secretary for a 15-minute “courtesy call” at 10:55 p.m., December 28. (Princeton University Library, Dulles Papers) See also footnote 1, infra .