Cairo Conferences (SEXTANT)

The Director of War Mobilization to the President

Washington, November 27, 1943

For the President from Justice Byrnes

Francis Gibbs advises me that if immediately authorized, forty to fifty additional ships nearly identical with LCIL but having speed of twelve knots probably can be delivered within specified time by converting army cargo vessels under contract in Gulf intended for duty in MacArthur theatre. Could probably start deliveries within sixty days. If these ships are held not suitable for all functions of LCIL they can at least be substituted for non-combat duty of LCIL and LST releasing the latter. If you approve, please wire me authority to proceed.

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U.S. State Department (November 28, 1943)

The Secretary of War to the Assistant Secretary of War

Washington, November 28, 1943

Eyes only to McCloy from Stimson

Hull and I agree with the suggestion that the tentative recommendations of the European Advisory Commission be submitted to the Combined Chiefs of Staff for comment and suggestion by them prior to any final submission of recommendations by the commission to Governments. We are pleased to note Eden’s tentative agreement to remove further pressure for removal of Combined Civil Affairs Committee to London, and to permit British representatives Combined Civil Affairs Committee to take full part in all discussions relating to operations based on UK… State Department believes that UK-US Commission to deal with French political situation should be located in London. I congratulate you heartily on having worked out thus far such satisfactory solution of these problems.

The Minister in Egypt to the President’s special assistant, temporarily at Tehran

Cairo, 28 November 1943

Immediate and urgent for Harry Hopkins signed Kirk.

With reference to document which you gave me for safe keeping pending instructions from Tehran I learn from Ryan of Ministry of Information that British have communicated text in code through British Embassy here to Foreign Office in London preparatory to release upon notification flash from your party. Ryan states such release will be immediate without twenty-four-hour advance notice mentioned and that Cairo handout will be for background only and not for transmission.

In view of this situation, I would appreciate immediate detailed instructions as to action to be taken by me so that there may be no slipup by the Legation and in order that I may notify Chinese as you requested. Russell Barnes of Office of War Information now in Tehran is familiar with set-up here and can furnish you with any additional information in that regard.

U.S. State Department (November 29, 1943)

The Minister in Egypt to the President’s special assistant, temporarily at Tehran

Cairo, November 29, 1943


With reference to my message of yesterday Chinese Chargé has just called to say that he has cabled text of document to Chungking with instructions to hold release pending flash from him.

I told him that I had been instructed to notify him when I received word from Tehran of date of release. As matters now stand therefore texts of document in question are in Foreign Offices in London and Chungking, but unless you have sent text direct there is none in Washington. Do you wish me to cable text in advance to State Department to be held pending instructions as to date of release or are you taking action in Tehran?


The President’s special assistant to the Minister in Egypt

Tehran, 29 November 1943

Your instructions are as follows: Give text of communiqué to OWI with instructions that it is released for publication at 2330 hours Greenwich Meridian Time Wednesday December 1 under Cairo date line. News services will be given text of communiqué at 1700 hours Cairo Time Tuesday November 30 to facilitate transmission. Release terms must warn that all material is secret and confidential until the hour for published release and must not be discussed outside newspaper offices or speculated upon in any way. No pre-announcement will be made concerning tendency of important announcement and newspapers and radio stations are directed not to make advance statements of any kind whatsoever until exact hour of release. Background material at Cairo is subject to same release conditions. Stories released must include information all principals have left Cairo for unannounced destinations. Pictures are released same hour or whenever transmission is possible. These instructions are approved by the President. Notify Chinese Minister in detail. Also send immediately highest priority full copy these instructions with text communiqué to Steve Early, Secretary to the President, Washington, DC.

U.S. State Department (November 30, 1943)

The Assistant Secretary of War to the President’s special assistant

Cairo, 30 November 1943

Memorandum for Mr. Hopkins:

We have worked out with the British an arrangement for handling civil affairs, so called, in conjunction with the European Advisory Commission which I think will be satisfactory:

First, we agree to treat the EAC seriously and to put good men who are familiar with what has already been going on, on the staff to help Winant.

Second, they agree to forget their idea of moving the Combined Civil Affairs Committee to London and will empower their representatives in Washington to go ahead and function.

Third, all recommendations made by the EAC will be first submitted to the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington for their comments and suggestions before being submitted as final recommendations to the respective governments.

Fourth, the Combined Chiefs of Staff will prepare the final directives for the commanders in the field, based on the determinations of the three governments as thus obtained – the detailed planning to be carried forward by the local command.

This general setup was agreed to in my conference with Eden and later Jebb, his assistant, before leaving for Tehran said he felt “London” (whoever that was) would go along. He asked me to prepare a memo embodying this agreement for final confirmation on his return which I have done.

This in my judgement is the best that can be done and I have gotten Hull’s and Stimson’s approval of it. If you say O.K. I think it can be put across. My only concern is as to how expeditiously the EAC will function. I do not get the impression that Winant is a fast administrator but we will give him as good a staff as we can collect. If it works at that end it will work at ours.

Will you phone me?


Draft agreement prepared by the U.S. Delegation

Cairo, 30 November 1943

Liaison between European Advisory Commission and Combined Chiefs of Staff

At the Moscow Conference there was established the European Advisory Commission to which there has been referred civil affairs matters closely connected with military considerations of primary interest to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

It is essential that a liaison procedure be established between the European Advisory Commission and the Combined Chiefs of Staff whereby they can readily exchange views and comments on civil affairs matters.

With these considerations in mind, the following principles are laid down as satisfactory liaison procedure between the European Advisory Commission and the Combined Chiefs of Staff:

a. Tentative recommendations of the European Advisory Commission will be referred to the Combined Chiefs of Staff for their comment prior to final submission of recommendations by the Commission to the three governments.

b. The governments will transmit approved recommendations of the Commission to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, who will prepare and transmit final directives to the appropriate commanders. Detailed planning will be carried forward at the headquarters of the commanders concerned.

c. The British representation on the CCAC will be instructed to participate and empowered to act in all civil affairs matters relating to combined operations, without limitation as to area, that are brought before the committee.

Accepted at SEXTANT Conference
Cairo, Egypt

. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .

The Assistant Secretary of War to the President’s special assistant

Cairo, 30 November 1943

Memorandum for Mr. Harry Hopkins:

In the course of my talk with Eden I brought up Hull’s suggestion of a Committee set up somewhat as the Combined Committee to deal with all French questions. All matters relating to our dealings with the French would for the time being be cleared through that committee. Hull’s idea was that this would eliminate the irritation and distrust that now arises in connection with our respective French policies. Eden expressed prompt approval of the idea and today Hull cabled through Stimson to the effect that he thought it would be well to set such a group up in London. I gather it would be most informal and could consist of a military man and a foreign affairs man from each of the governments, calling on other agencies for such economic and other help as they need.

Would the President think well of this idea? If so, I can see that it is pushed along.


Memorandum by the Minister Resident in Saudi Arabia, temporarily at Cairo

Cairo, November 30, 1943

Brief comment on Mr. Jordan’s telegram of November 15, 1943, about arms for Saudi Arabia

In the first paragraph the question numbered (6) was not asked, though the answer was supplied by the King’s messenger. The remainder of the first paragraph is correct, and the second paragraph, insofar as it goes.

What does not appear from Mr. Jordan’s telegram is that King Ibn Saud was informed as a preface to the inquiry that the American and British military authorities in Washington were in consultation on the problem of arms for Saudi Arabia. The King was further informed that the subject of the inquiry would be discussed with the British Minister in Jidda; and the American Minister Resident did discuss it with the British Minister on a date which cannot be stated exactly without reference to records in Jidda, but which may have been November 16 or November 17, 1943.

A noteworthy feature of Mr. Jordan’s telegram is that his concern over apparent lack of collaboration did not lead him to refer to his American colleague to verify the completeness or accuracy of his information before reporting to the Foreign Office, nor did he mention it when discussing arms with the American Minister Resident on or about November 16, 1943. It is also worthwhile to note that the British Foreign Office (or Ministry of State) attributed sufficient importance to this point of procedure to refer it to the highest authority.


The President’s special assistant to the Minister in Egypt

Tehran, November 30, 1943

To Kirk for Frank Shea from Hopkins.

Re Shea’s query instructions are as follows: Eliminate or hold for later release all references to Mena House, villas occupied by any members of party, or Mena itself. It is permissible to release details of trip to Pyramids and Sphinx and other color stories so long as no hint or disclosure of local conference locations is given. Cairo dateline still stands. Text of communiqué unchanged. Repeat this message to Steve Early for reference to Surles.

Reuters (November 30, 1943)

Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang hold long conference in Cairo

Lisbon, Portugal –
President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill have completed a long conference in Cairo and are now en route to somewhere in Iran to meet Premier Stalin, it is known here definitely.

Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek took part in the Cairo conference and will also meet Premier Stalin.

A communiqué agreed on after the Cairo Conference will be published later this week. The three statesmen met on one occasion in a tent in the shadow of the Pyramids.

During the conference, Cairo was cut off from communications with the rest of the world. President Roosevelt and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who was accompanied by Madame Chiang, traveled to Cairo by air, while Prime Minister Churchill traveled by sea.

U.S. State Department (November 30, 1943)

The Director of the Office of War Information to the British Minister of Information

Washington, November 30, 1943


I must enter the most energetic protest against the Reuters dispatch purporting to come from Lisbon and distributed today. While I realize that Reuters is a purely private institution on which the British government has not the slightest shadow of influence, this dispatch is reported to have been passed by the British censorship for radio transmission abroad though we understand it was not published in the United Kingdom. I need hardly point out to you the very unfortunate consequences. First is a serious and perhaps perilous violation of security. Second, the political warfare value for both the American and British governments of the meetings and the decisions made thereat will be materially lessened by premature disclosure of the fact which enables the Germans and the Japanese to blanket the world with their version of the story before the actual announcement is on the record. Finally, a consideration not without importance is the universal indignation of the American press at Reuters disclosure here though not in British Isles of facts this morning imparted to American newspapers with instruction to observe extraordinary precautions to preserve secrecy. As you know this is far from the first time that such an incident has occurred though this exceeds all its predecessors in flagrancy. This practice could become one of the most serious obstacles to Anglo-American understanding. In the interest of that understanding, as well as of our coordinated propaganda against the enemy, I most urgently request you to see that censorship holds Reuters in line hereafter.

The Pittsburgh Press (November 30, 1943)

Meeting of ‘Big 3,’ Chiang reported

London, England (UP) –
Radio Ankara today broadcast unconfirmed reports that Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin met in Cairo with President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

A German DNB News Agency dispatch, datelined Amsterdam, today quoted what was described as a Reuters report that Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill and Generalissimo Chiang had just conferred at Cairo and are now on the way to meet Premier Stalin in Iran.

The Pittsburgh Press (December 1, 1943)

Stalin reported meeting Roosevelt and Churchill

Chiang also with ‘Big Three’ in Iran, dispatches from Turkey say
By the United Press

Dispatches received in Lisbon from the Middle East today said that President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin have opened a momentous conference in Tehran, Iran, and that Generalissimo and Mme. Chiang Kai-shek were also in the Iranian capital.

The Lisbon daily O Século published a dispatch quoting the Inter-Information Agency of Ankara that the “Big Three” leaders were meeting in Tehran where they had been joined by Laurence Steinhardt, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey.

It gave no indication as to whether Gen. Chiang would participate. American and other Allied shortwave radio transmitters in broadcasts to the world said that the Chinese leader had conferred with Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill in Cairo recently and suggested that he would also meet Premier Stalin.

Sensation for Nazis

Axis broadcasts and copies of German and neutral European newspapers reaching Lisbon indicated that reports of the meeting had created a sensation throughout the Nazi-occupied continent.

Both Axis and neutral accounts agreed on the importance of the reported conference, particularly in that Stalin was said to be participating.

They indicated that Berlin had been taken by surprise. German propaganda for months has hammered at the idea that Stalin could not be brought into agreement with his allies.

Appeasement for Chinese

Radio Tokyo followed the line that Chiang had been included to “appease” the Chinese for their non-participation in the recent Moscow conference of foreign ministers.

Most broadcasts agreed that a communiqué covering at least the Roosevelt-Churchill-Chiang meeting would be issued sometime this week.

Almost all the broadcasts reported the meetings without qualification and said they were “announced” in a dispatch carried by the British news agency Reuters from Lisbon.

Cairo communications cut

An American broadcast to France, typical of all the Allied broadcasts, said that all communications between Cairo and the outside world were cut during the lengthy conference among Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill and Generalissimo Chiang. One of the meetings was said to have been held in a tent in the shadow of the Pyramids.

Mr. Roosevelt and Generalissimo Chiang, who was accompanied by Mme. Chiang, flew to Egypt and Mr. Churchill arrived by ship, the broadcast said.

Broadcast by Dakar

The American broadcast said:

The President of the United States, the British Premier and the chief of the Chinese government, following their meeting in Cairo, are now heading for an unknown destination, in order to meet Marshal Stalin.

The Allied-controlled stations in Dakar and Brazzaville, as well as that in Leopoldville, made similar broadcasts.

The Germans, apparently monitoring a Reuters broadcast to its overseas clients, picked up the British agency’s Lisbon dispatch and reissued it to Nazi foreign clients within a half-hour yesterday, the Office of War Information reported.

Nazi propaganda

Quickly developing their propaganda line, the Germans put out a dispatch under the signature of Dr. Siegfried Horn, DNB’s diplomatic correspondent, saying that the United States and Britain had been forced to “make concessions to the Soviet Union.”

Though his agency relayed the report through the medium of American shortwave broadcasts, Director Elmer Davis of the OWI denounced Reuters’ distribution of the dispatch reporting the three- and four-power meetings as “reprehensible.”

If such a conference had been held, he said, it could be assumed from past experience that some arrangement would be made for a simultaneous announcement “in all the capitals involved.”

Sees broken release

Mr. Davis said:

If that were the case, Reuters broke the release date. If there were no conference, the story would be an invention. Either way, it is equally reprehensible.

Mr. Davis said OWI broadcast the report because, since “everybody else” was handling it, the OWI should “give its own customers something, too.”

The Reuters Agency, according to a Dow Jones report from London, today took exception to the criticism by Elmer Davis, saying he should have made a search for the facts on the Roosevelt-Churchill-Stalin conference. Reuters said there was no embargo or restriction agreed, or otherwise, on sending anywhere the story of the meeting. The story was the result of spontaneous journalistic enterprise by Douglas Brown, chief of the Reuters bureau in Lisbon. Reuters said it was not allowed to publish the story in London but sent it to clients overseas.

Says Beneš may attend

The Stockholm Svenska Dagbladet reported from Berne that both President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill arrived in North Africa by warship, accompanied by high military authorities and diplomats. The dispatch said that Edvard Beneš, President of the Czech government-in-exile, was expected to attend the meeting involving Marshal Stalin as an observer, while the French Committee of National Liberation would also be represented.

The dispatch said:

The meeting [with Marshal Stalin] is expected to formulate conditions for Germany’s capitulation and probably will result in an Allied declaration to the German people and a similar declaration to the satellites urging the withdrawal of their troops to their own countries.

An earlier Ankara dispatch reported that U.S. Ambassador Steinhardt had returned to Ankara last night after a week-long “mysterious trip” which foreign circles linked with a three-power meeting. The “foreign” sources suggested that Mr. Steinhardt had been summoned to give expert counsel to Mr. Roosevelt in view of Turkey’s possible role in an offensive in Southeastern Europe.

British papers ignore report of parley

London, England (UP) –
British morning newspapers today ignored a Reuters Lisbon dispatch saying that President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had completed conferences at Cairo and printed only Axis speculation on the prospects of a conference.

The BBC also did not carry the Reuters report in either its home or shortwave programs, though some references to the dispatch were made in a program called America Calling Britain, which originates in the United States.

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U.S. State Department (December 2, 1943)

The Prime Minister’s assistant private secretary to the President’s special assistant

Cairo, December 2, 1943

Most secret
Most immediate

Mr. Hopkins.

The Prime Minister has instructed me to send down to you immediately, for the President’s information, the attached copy of telegram No. 365 from Angora to the Minister of State, Cairo, which was repeated to Tehran and which the Prime Minister saw last night, and of telegram No. 394 from Angora to the Embassy at Cairo which has just been received.

F. D. W. Brown

[Attachment 1]

The British Ambassador in Turkey to the British Minister of State Resident in the Middle East

Ankara, December 1, 1943
Most immediate

Addressed Minister of State telegram 365 and repeated to Tehran and Foreign Office. Most secret.

Minister for Foreign Affairs spontaneously mentioned to U.S. Ambassador this morning the possibility of meeting President of the Republic with President Roosevelt and the Prime Minister. He said that there would be serious difficulties about Cairo and that in any case the party would not agree to the President of the Republic flying. Adana would present security difficulties, but speaking purely personally and without commitment, he suggested Aleppo might be possible.

I give this for information only. U.S. Ambassador is repeating it.

[Attachment 2]

The British Ambassador in Turkey to the British Embassy in Egypt

Ankara, December 2, 1943
Most immediate

Addressed to Cairo Embassy telegram No. 394 repeated to the Foreign Office, Tehran. Most Secret. Foreign Office telegram No. 1644 to me (repeating Tehran telegram No. 33 to me).

Pending the receipt of instructions by my Soviet and United States Colleagues I have informed the Minister for Foreign Affairs of your proposal that the President should go to Cairo.

Minister for Foreign Affairs has consulted the President and the Prime Minister and informs me as follows.

If the object of the visit is discussions on basis of decision[s] already taken in conversations with Stalin in Tehran the President would not be willing to come.

If however the object is to afford the opportunity of free equal and unprejudged discussion as to the best method by which Turkey can serve the common cause, the President would be willing to come accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Minister for Foreign Affairs explained that the President’s position [vis-à-vis the?] national party and the country would be rendered impossible if he accepted the invitation on the basis of paragraph 3.

If the invitation is on basis of paragraph 4, he would be ready to leave on the morning of December 3 reaching Adana early December 4. His party would number 15. There would in addition be my Soviet and United States Colleagues and myself. I should propose to bring Counsellor and Air Attaché. Including the President’s party it would be necessary to count on total of 25 to 30.

I have been in touch with my Soviet and United States Colleagues and will inform them of the above as soon as possible.


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The President’s Secretary to the President’s special assistant

Washington, 2 December 1943

For Harry Hopkins from Mr. Early

Cairo communiqué enthusiastically received throughout country. Great praise jubilation prevails all quarters. This despite premature release by Reuters in dispatch under Lisbon dateline of virtually complete story of Cairo conferences almost twenty-four hours before official communiqué was released thus most unfortunately discounting communiqué and enabling German Japanese propagandists meanwhile to broadcast to world their versions of conference. Urge reduction of time interval between distribution and publication should other official communiqués be issued. Also suggest strict prohibition against export of contents of future communiqués prior to release date.

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The President’s special assistant to the President’s Secretary

Tehran, 2 December 1943

For Mr. Early from Mr. Hopkins

Text of Tehran Communiqué will be released for publication 1300 hours Washington Time, 2000 hours Moscow Time, December 6. Details of release will be sent later. Please send report concerning treatment of Chinese communiqué including any violations release date or unauthorized premature publication facts concerning Cairo or Tehran Conferences and your suggestions.

The President’s Secretary to the President’s special assistant

Washington, 2 December 1943

From Mr. Early to Mr. Hopkins.

Supplementing White 74, also acknowledging your Black fifty. Reuters’ treatment Cairo story provoked bitter resentment by American newspapers. Protests have been sent to Bracken and according to press reports today Reuters premature release was subject of heated debate in House of Commons today. Bracken disclaimed responsibility. However, the Reuters story, circulated generally elsewhere some 33 hours ahead of official release, was not permitted by British censors to be published in England.

I am receiving protests, including one from Roy Roberts. Ever since your departure we have pleaded with British censorship and government for greater security. Reuters action seems most reprehensible to us. Their reports gave away practically the entire Cairo story except actual text of communiqué. The text was about all they did not publish in advance of communiqué. Washington correspondents are disposed to place the responsibility for Reuters’ actions on the British, not on us. They appreciate we did everything possible to protect story.

They are making on their own responsibility formal protest to Halifax here.

Our press, of course, published Reuters’ reports but carefully refrained from publishing anything else although they had received fullest advices from their own correspondents. None of the latter was published until the release hour fixed by Cairo. As Roy Roberts protests:

The release by Reuters destroyed much of the effect of what should have been one of the epochal highspots of the war.

Press here received today from London following, “Ankara reported Stalin Roosevelt arrived Tehran.” To date except for speculative pieces that Roosevelt moved from Cairo to meet Stalin presumably in Tehran, nothing important has been published yet about Tehran conference.

Only suggestions I have to make were included in previous dispatch. However, I urgently repeat that those suggestions be enforced. I repeat that despite Reuters’ actions, the Cairo conference reaction most favorably received by people of this country and the morale effect of the three power pledges is evident everywhere.

Regards to all.

The Ambassador in Turkey to the President

Ankara, December 2, 1943 – 2 p.m.

The President of Turkey, Mr. Inonu, has agreed to go with the Foreign Minister to Cairo:

On condition that as between equals he is being invited to a free discussion and is not merely to be informed of decisions already arrived at in Tehran concerning Turkey.

The British Ambassador to Turkey, Knatchbull-Hugessen, has telegraphed for authority to give Inonu the assurance he desires. It will be possible if the necessary authority is received before the morning of Friday December 3 for us to arrive in Adana by train on the morning of December 4 and to be in Cairo about 1 p.m. on the same day by special planes sent for us. At the moment, as near as I can estimate, the entire party will consist of about thirty people.

All is going along well.

The President to the Ambassador in Turkey

Cairo, December 2, 1943

Will you tell Inonu at once that I am delighted that he can come to see me? Assure him that he is being invited to a “free discussion as between equals.” Please tell the President that I am especially happy to have the occasion to talk with him. Will you tell him that transport planes will be available Adana on the morning of December 4? For your information British are advising their Ambassador in similar sense. Will you be sure to have an adequate American Interpreter with you?