Hopkins-Eden-Molotov luncheon meeting, 1:30 p.m.
||Foreign Secretary Eden
||Foreign Commissar Molotov
November 30, 1943, 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Hopkins brought up the question of the “strong points” to which reference had evidently been made previously in discussions with Mr. Molotov and Marshal Stalin about post-war Europe.
Mr. Molotov specifically mentioned Bizerte and Dakar and was interested in the question of the sovereignty of Bizerte. He said it would be difficult to realize how the war could not but affect such places, and that this was Marshal Stalin’s point of view also.
He added that it would be difficult also to comprehend how France, specifically, could be considered for treatment which would exclude punishment for her hostile acts committed in the past – in other words, how France could go unpunished for these acts.
Mr. Hopkins, specifically mentioning Belgium and Holland, brought out the implications of the fact that these countries were in close proximity to Germany and questioned the ability of such countries to defend themselves after this war.
Mr. Molotov said it had been shown once more that they are unable to defend themselves. Regarding France, however, he stated that this was a different matter. He said that France did not want to defend herself and in this respect she could be held much more responsible for her hostile acts than could Belgium and Holland.
Mr. Eden very willingly admitted that Great Britain should have given France more help.
Mr. Molotov indicated that France was not merely a country overpowered by the Germans but in fact was now with the Germans actively supporting German strategy. He added that France was not weak and that France did not want to join the Allies but wanted to collaborate with Germany. He said that the former French government had collapsed and that France made an alliance with Germany.
Mr. Eden , in reference to possible future attitudes toward France, said that nothing was too bad for the Lavals and Petains.
Mr. Molotov repeated that they are supporting Hitler now and that regarding France it is not just a matter of weakness.
Mr. Hopkins mentioned as an example the possibility of a strong point and airbase in Belgium and wanted to know what sort of agreement could be worked out in regard to who would operate such a base and under what right or authority.
It was pointed out that it would perhaps be easier just to arrange for the use of such bases for the Allies following the war in countries which had been enemy countries, and that in order to get the use of such bases in friendly countries, certain complications and rights of sovereignty might arise.
Mr. Eden suggested that the leasing of bases in the West Indies to the United States by Great Britain might serve as a rough example of these future arrangements.
Turning to Mr. Hopkins he said that it seemed that this was an exchange of bases for United States ships but really it was because “We like the United States to be there.” He asked Mr. Hopkins if he did not think that was really it.
Mr. Hopkins indicated that he would object to any such conclusion.
Mr. Molotov indicated that it would be hard to realize how such future arrangements for strong points could not but affect the countries where such bases were located but that at the present time it seemed uncertain what countries would be so affected. He said that he felt he was expressing the views of Marshal Stalin in stating that after the war in order to assure that there would be no future big war, the States particularly responsible for securing the peace will have to see to it that the main strategic bases will be in their control.
Regarding the strong points which will be taken from Germany or Japan, he remarked that these could be under the control possibly of Great Britain or the United States or both.
Specifically concerning Bizerte and Dakar, he mentioned United States or British control.
It appeared that he assumed there would be United States control in the Atlantic, and he asked if this was the correct understanding.
Mr. Eden said that the Prime Minister had stated that he did not want any more territory and that in regard to strong points taken from Germany and Japan, there might be joint control by the United States and Great Britain or United Nations control.
Regarding French bases, he could not say, since this matter would take great consideration, particularly in view of the fact that for many years England had been very close to France.
It might be supposed that the French could make a contribution by placing their bases under some United Nations control. In this way it would be possible for France to give something, and this should not in any way hurt the pride of France.
Mr. Molotov agreed that these sounded like legitimate demands.
Mr. Hopkins indicated that the place and strength of these future strong points would have to be worked out with a view as to who would possibly be a potential future enemy. He said that the President feels it essential to world peace that Russia, Great Britain, and the United States work out this control question in a manner which will not start each of the three powers arming against the others.
He indicated that the people would select as likely future enemies, Germany and Japan.
He said that the question of building up bases in the Pacific would not be a difficult one. Specifically in regard to the Philippines, he indicated that following their independence we would still consider it advisable to have naval and air bases there. He indicated that we feel such bases in the Philippines would not be under United Nations control but rather United States control.
In the event that Formosa was returned to China, naval and air bases would be desired there also.
The size, character, and duties of occupying forces on such bases would have to be worked out.
Mr. Eden said he agreed also.
Mr. Hopkins said that there are two problems which disturb the President in this connection. We do not want sovereignty over any islands which will be free [freed?] from Japanese domination. The United Nations may perhaps exercise some sort of protective influence.
The problem remains as to the type of base and as to who will operate them. The three great powers should decide these basic questions regarding strong points and who will control these. This control will involve air, naval, and ground forces.
Mr. Hopkins pointed out that it is relatively easy for the United States to discuss the question of strong points because the United States is not located under any possible immediate danger from Germany. The difficult problem will be to enforce peace upon Germany. The Russian and British strong points located nearer to Germany would involve more immediate problems in connection with the enforcing of peace on Germany.
The question of the location of strong points should not be too difficult once the most difficult problems in this connection have been basically agreed upon here. This whole question of strong points is one of the most important post-war problems.
Mr. Hopkins mentioned that there had been a brief discussion between the Prime Minister and Marshal Stalin on this subject and that it would be fully worthwhile, he believed, if the President, Prime Minister, and Marshal Stalin could further discuss this problem but that he understood that time was short and that possibly we could go into this matter now.
Mr. Molotov indicated that of course the heads of the governments had greater authority and would be more fully competent to talk through the issue but that possibly we could clarify the matter now.
Mr. Eden said he would like to know what Mr. Molotov recommends on the matter. Then he turned to the problem of Turkey.
He said that the Turkey problem had been thought over carefully and that it was his suggestion that we should make a joint summons to Turkey to enter the war. This summons would be made to Turkey, making clear what consequences would follow if Turkey refused, with all three of us backing the demand. He indicated that if it were agreeable to Mr. Molotov, an invitation could be extended to President Inonu of Turkey to come to Cairo where he could meet with the Prime Minister and the President if the President would be willing to stop over for this purpose in Cairo on his way back.
Mr. Eden said to Mr. Molotov that he would like to have Russian participation also and that it would be good if they would send someone representing the Soviet Government to the proposed meeting with the Turkish President in Cairo.
Mr. Eden added that it may be likely that President Inonu would not come; that he might make a constitutional excuse. But in case President Inonu does refuse to come to Cairo, he would suggest that the President or the Prime Minister should not go to Turkey. If President Inonu does not come, perhaps an Ambassador or better yet, some special messenger should be sent to President Inonu in Turkey with our demands.
Mr. Eden emphasized that he thought there should be a special person sent and asked who this person should be.
Mr. Molotov stated that he was in favor of bringing Turkey into the war not in the distant future, but now, this year.
Mr. Eden remarked that the problem then is not what we want but how. He stated that he understood that Marshal Stalin does not believe that Turkey will go to war, but Mr. Eden added it should be tried.
He said to Mr. Molotov that it was his feeling that the Soviet position was of much greater optimism in regard to the possibility of getting Turkey into the war at the time of the Three Power Conference in Moscow.
Mr. Molotov indicated that following the Numan request and the negotiations with Turkey conducted by Mr. Eden in the name of the Three Powers, that the reply which Great Britain had received from Turkey had caused the Russian loss of optimism.
Mr. Hopkins said that he understood that the Russians had wanted Turkey to enter the war particularly for immediate military benefit which the Russians had felt they would derive from having this action force more German troops away from the Soviet front.
He understood that the Prime Minister had discussed with Marshal Stalin on several occasions, the Turkey problem and that Marshal Stalin had emphasized his desire to have Turkey in the war now.
He said that the President would want to know more about the present Soviet attitude on this question. He assumed that all of us would want Turkey in the war and wanted to know whether there was actually a change in emphasis in the Soviet analysis of this situation.
Mr. Eden, in answer to a question put to him, stated that he had spoken in Turkey on behalf of the three countries.
Mr. Molotov remarked that under the authority of the protocol of the Three Power Conference, this was as it should be.
Mr. Hopkins indicated that it was quite all right for Mr. Eden to speak for the United States.
Mr. Molotov pointed out that the reply made by Turkey was very bad and could not but affect the Soviet point of view which he understood had been made clear to Mr. Churchill by Marshal Stalin.
Mr. Molotov then added that if Turkey does declare war on Germany and if Bulgaria continues to take a hostile attitude, the Soviet Union will not only break diplomatic relations with Bulgaria but will be at war with Bulgaria. This all goes to show, he indicated, that the Soviet Government does attach importance to the participation of Turkey in the war.
Mr. Eden said that when he first learned of this Soviet analysis in regard to Bulgaria in this connection, and that he had heard about this at the conference yesterday, that he was frankly surprised.
Mr. Molotov said that this was a brief exposition of the Soviet point of view.
He asked Mr. Eden if he could elucidate a statement made at the conference yesterday by Prime Minister Churchill to the effect that if Turkey refuses the demands, that Turkey’s post-war rights in the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles would be affected. He asked Mr. Eden what Mr. Churchill meant by this.
Mr. Eden replied “frankly I do not know.”
Then he went on to add that he supposed the Prime Minister had meant that the present cordiality and support being offered Turkey would be changed; in fact that the whole basis of relationship with Great Britain would be changed.
He offered to ask Mr. Churchill for further elucidation if Mr. Molotov would so desire.
Mr. Molotov indicated that he would like to know.
Mr. Eden then asked Mr. Molotov if specifically his government would agree to the suggestion to try to bring President Inonu of Turkey to Cairo.
Mr. Molotov said that he thought it would be a good idea but that he would ask Marshal Stalin.
Mr. Eden thanked Mr. Molotov very much.
Mr. Hopkins, turning to Mr. Eden, stated that he had good reason to believe that a substantial understanding on these points under discussion would be arrived at between Marshal Stalin, the Prime Minister, and the President.
Mr. Molotov said he was convinced that the results of this conference would add vigor to the people of our respective countries and that the coming together of the three heads of government would do still more toward improving the morale in our countries.
Mr. Hopkins indicated that if large undertakings were started following Turkey’s entry into the war, and if in this connection the island of Rhodes were occupied and attacks were made on the Dodecanese Islands, that such large commitments which would inevitably follow, would possibly cause at least a delay of OVERLORD. However, he stated that aside from the military situation which might be of sufficient importance that also there might be a psychological advantage in developing the war in this area at this time which would justify a delay in OVERLORD. Among other things, this might force Finland to ask for peace from Russia.
Mr. Molotov asked if he was to understand that the entry of Turkey into the war at this time was connected with a delay in the timing of OVERLORD in the opinion of Mr. Hopkins.
Mr. Hopkins said that the President was under this impression and so also our Chiefs of Staff.
Mr. Molotov said that Marshal Stalin would be against getting Turkey into the war now if this necessarily meant a delay of OVERLORD.
Mr. Hopkins said he hesitated to be too encouraging but that he might be mistaken and that possibly a formula was being worked out whereby this possible action in the Eastern Mediterranean could take place without interfering with OVERLORD.
Mr. Hopkins said that he understands there were three questions of urgent importance to the Russians in regard to OVERLORD as stated at the conference yesterday:
- The assurance that OVERLORD will take place and on time.
- The Commander of OVERLORD.
- The supporting action in Southern France.
Mr. Eden then turned to the question of aid to Tito in Yugoslavia. He made mention of a mission with United States Officers in it and suggested to Mr. Molotov that the Russians might also want to send a mission and that maybe the Russians would want to have an airbase in Northern Africa.
Mr. Eden stated that the British were ready to provide that base.
Mr. Molotov said thank you.
Mr. Eden went on to explain that the British airbase for sending supplies to Tito is located at Cairo and asked Mr. Molotov where he would like to have a base for the Russians.
Mr. Molotov answered that he would leave that to the discretion of Mr. Eden and that as Mr. Eden suggested Cairo he thought that would be a good location for the Russians too.
Mr. Molotov said that the Soviet General Staff plans to send a mission to Yugoslavia and that on his return to Moscow he will be able to state who is taking part in this mission.
Mr. Eden said that he would try to get preliminary arrangements made and a place ready for an airbase for the Russians at Cairo and assured that such a base would be made available.
Mr. Molotov asked whether it would not be better to have a mission to Michaelovich [Mihailović] rather than to Tito in order to get better information.
Mr. Eden said that he would know better tomorrow but that from reports he had received from British Officers, Michaelovich would not be good to deal with, but he said that maybe it would be good for the Russians to send some of their people to Michaelovich.
Then he brought up the question as to whether the territory occupied by Tito was or was not separated by German forces from the area or areas occupied by Michaelovich.
Mr. Eden then referred to Mr. Molotov, making reference to what he termed an “indiscreet conversation” held between the Prime Minister and Marshal Stalin the other day on the subject of Poland.
He added that the British have only one desire – to prevent the problem from becoming a source of friction between our countries. He said that if the question of two steps to the left was to be considered for Poland, then he would want to know how large these steps would be. He said that if he knew what was in the minds of the Russians on this question he would then be able to ask them for some sort of an agreement of opinion. Therefore, he suggested that this problem should be carefully looked over.
Mr. Molotov added that he agreed.
Mr. Hopkins said that he was under the impression that the President had spoken quite openly and frankly with Marshal Stalin and that he had told him or would tell him all that he had on his mind on this subject and that he was sure the President and Prime Minister had talked over the question of Poland.