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662.6731/140: Telegram The Ambassador in Turkey (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State
ANKARA, September 17, 1941–6 p.m.
[Received 10:01 p. m.] 344. My 267, July 24. The Secretary General of the Foreign Office today informed me that his negotiations with the German Trade Delegation are proceeding normally and easily on the basis of two principles that he had got them to accept in advance: First that Turkish products will be exported only upon the receipt of German goods to the same amount; and second that exchanges will be effected on the basis of prescribed categories of goods of equivalent economic value.
2. Upon inquiry, it appeared that under latter principle Germans have broached question of getting chrome in exchange for certain greatly needed military equipment ordered in Germany before war but never delivered. Numan said that this Government is extremely reluctant to accede to this request and would not in any case do so without full consultation with British. He went on to argue, however, that British have no legal basis for their claim to right of renewal of contract (expiring next January) which gives them exclusive right to purchase of entire Turkish output inasmuch as in that contract they were joint parties with French. I expressed hope that Turkish Government would also take into account American interest in having no chrome go to Germany and referred to his own previous assurances; but he avoided committing himself.
3. British Embassy informs me that Clodius in fact claimed that Germany by right of conquest succeeded to French right to fourfifteenths share under chrome contract but that Numan categorically refuted this pretension.
867.24/179 : Telegram The Ambassador in Turkey (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State
ANKARA, September 18, 1941–1 p. m.
[Received September 19–9:45 p. m.] 345. Supplementing my next previous telegram.28 I am disappointed and anxious that Turkish Government in spite of repeated assurances is even considering German request for chrome; and on consulting British Counselor and Commercial Attaché 28a (in temporary absence of Ambassador) I find them also very seriously perturbed. They have reason to believe that Turks contemplate giving Germany 3,500 tons. That amount is relatively insignificant in view of fact
that German stocks are understood to be 90,000 tons or enough to last through 1942 but significant as “token” concession and capable of being exploited as means of lateral pressure to buckle Turkish morale (see my 238, July 7 29). ...
2. My own recommendation as to most effective way to impress them with seriousness of step they contemplate is this: Secretary or Under Secretary might call in Turkish Ambassador and lay case before him with statement that matter is being taken up with him because he has first-hand acquaintance with developments of policy of lease-lend assistance and question of according such aid to countries not actually participating in war and because he understands and can make clear to his Government vital importance of American public opinion in such matters of policy; then explain to him that our Government would put itself in altogether untenable position if it were to continue giving lease-lend assistance to a non-belligerent country which although allied with Britain nevertheless gives her enemies essential materials contributing to their war potential despite contractual arrangements made with Allies for very purpose of avoiding that contingency and despite repeated recent assurances to them and to ourselves; and state that such action on their part would introduce a new element into situation and compel us to take under fresh consideration question whether Turkey can be considered a country entitled to assistance under terms of LeaseLend Act.
3. I feel confident that such plain speaking (without pulling of punches because of any dainty apprehension lest they suspect us of bargaining) on the part of official recognized as having direct responsibility in administration of Act would not only forestall particular transaction we apprehend but have most salutary effect . . . In view of fact that trade negotiations are expected to be concluded within 2 weeks and of habitual Turkish tendency to make and carry out decisions with startling abruptness, action on our part should be taken with least possible delay.
811.20 Defense (M)/3364a : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom
WASHINGTON, September 19, 1941–5 p. m. 3912. Department has received following telegram from Ankara (in paraphrase) :
[Here follows paraphrase of telegram No. 344, September 17, 6 p. m., from the Ambassador in Turkey, printed on page 943.]
The British Embassy here has no late information as to the present state of the negotiations which it understands are currently going on in Ankara for the purchase by the British of the entire 1942 output of Turkish chrome. The Department considers that it is of great
. importance that an agreement be reached for the acquisition of this chrome by the British or by the British and the United States combined, and even is prepared to recommend that the Federal Loan Agency assume the financial cost of acquiring all this chrome if it cannot be had in any other way. It is accordingly the inclination of the Department to telegraph to the American Ambassador at Ankara requesting him to join with the British Ambassador to Turkey in a joint approach to the Turkish Government looking forward to a contract for joint acquisition of the 1942 chrome production. Indeed the Department is prepared, in view of the high importance of the successful conclusion of this undertaking, to recommend that such other steps as may be desirable such as the furnishing of ships for the transportation of Turkish tobacco to the United States be facilitated by this Government in order to supplement the corresponding effort of the British which it is understood has already resulted in a recent purchase of approximately £4,000,000 in value of wool, olive oil, mohair and valonia. The Department has determined, however, not to make the request of the American Ambassador in Ankara above referred to until it has received further information from you as to the status of the Turkish negotiations. You are accordingly requested to telegraph this information urgently and to give your opinion as to whether the suggested instruction to Ankara is the best approach which can be made. The final paragraph of this telegram has been repeated to Ankara.50
811.20 Defense (M)/3366a : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Turkey (MacMurray)
WASHINGTON, September 20, 1941—2 p.m. 162. Your 345, September 18,1 p. m. has been repeated to London. The Department has added that it is inclined to concur with your suggestion but has instructed the Embassy to discuss the matter with the British authorities and afford them an opportunity for comment before action is taken here. A reply by Tuesday 32 at the latest has been requested.
30 In telegram No. 160, September 19, 7 p. m., with the addition of the following paragraph:
"You are requested to telegraph such information as you may have as to the current status of the negotiations between the British and the Turkish Governments for the purchase of chrome". (811.20 Defense (M)/3289a)
81 In telegram No. 3935, infra.
Meanwhile, please inform the Turkish authorities that your Government attaches the greatest importance to chrome and has the matter under urgent consideration. You should if you find it necessary insist that the Turkish Government avoid any agreement with Germany regarding chrome until we have had an opportunity to present our views to the Turkish authorities.
811.20 Defense (M)/3364b: Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom
WASHINGTON, September 20, 1941–3 p. m. 3935. Following just received from Ankara :
[Here follows text of telegram No. 345, September 18,1 p. m., from the Ambassador in Turkey, printed on page 943.]
The Department is inclined to concur in Ambassador MacMurray's suggestion, but desires you to consult with the British authorities and afford them an opportunity to comment before action is taken here.
In view of the great interest of the American Government in the question of chrome and of the urgency of the matter, a reply by Tuesday at the latest is urgently requested.
Meanwhile the Ambassador at Ankara has been instructed to reiterate to the Turkish authorities the great importance we attach to chrome, to point out that we have the matter under urgent consideration, and to request the Turkish Government to defer any decision until we have had an opportunity to present our views to the Turkish authorities.
811.20 Defense (M)/3290 : Telegram The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary
LONDON, September 20, 1941–10 p. m.
[Received September 20—8:40 p. m.] 4415. Your 3912, September 19, 5 p. m., was taken up immediately with the Department of the Foreign Office which has been handling the London end of the British-Turkish chrome negotiations. Following is present status of negotiations as described by head of the Depart
ment: Some 2 months ago the British Ambassador at Ankara was instructed to present a note to the Turkish Government suggesting the renewal of the existing agreement which expires next January and proposing that under the renewed agreement, the British would take over the entire Turkish output. Before the arrival of Clodius at Ankara the Turks had begun to express doubts about agreeing to permit the British under a renewed agreement to take also the proportion of chrome which fell to the French under the old tripartite contract. They have even argued vaguely that they are not legally bound to renew the contract. Since the arrival of Clodius, the Turkish attitude has been increasingly unsatisfactory, although they have never yet stated to the British that they have any intention of allotting the French percentage to Germany.
The British Ambassador has been absent from Ankara at Smyrna during the past week but returns to Ankara on Monday. The discussions have in the interim been carried on by the Counselor of the Embassy and Secretary General of the Foreign Office. The most which the Turks have promised is that they will not sign any agreement with Germany in regard to chrome before the return of the Ambassador and before he has the opportunity to make his Government's representations. The Foreign Office is therefore cabling today a long telegram of instructions and guidance to the Ambassador which is to be acted upon as soon as he returns to Ankara. In this telegram they lay down their objectives and stress not only the economic but political angle pointing out that they regard Turkish action on this matter as a test of their good faith. According to the Foreign Office the British can demolish any legal argument the Turks may advance that there is no obligation to renew the contract. This telegram has been repeated in full to Washington and will be made available by the British Embassy to the Department.
The Foreign Office is aware of the importance which we attach to the successful conclusion of these negotiations. The officer who discussed the matter this afternoon said that he could state quite frankly that the opinion of all concerned in the Foreign Office is that if the United States desired to take action which would assist the British negotiations in their opinion it would be more effective if representations were made through the Turkish Ambassador at Washington than at Ankara.
In Foreign Office opinion the Turks are playing a slippery game on the chrome question and are merely angling for quick advantage to themselves whether it comes from Germany or elsewhere. It is the Foreign Office's understanding, however, that Germany is unable to give the Turks the things they immediately require. It would seem