740.0011 Moscow/10–1843

Summary of the Proceedings of the First Session of the Moscow Tripartite Conference, October 19, 1943, 4 p.m., at Spiridonovka16

Present: The Secretary of State
Mr. W. Averell Harriman
Major General Deane
Mr. Hackworth
Mr. James Clement Dunn
Mr. Charles E. Bohlen
The Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Molotov
Marshal Voroshilov
Mr. Pavlov
Mr. Vyshinski
Mr. M. Litvinov
Several Soviet minor officials
One Major General of the Soviet General Staff
The British Foreign Minister, Mr. Anthony Eden
Mr. W. Strang
Sir Archibald Clark Kerr
General Sir H. L. Ismay
Mr. Wilson
Mr. Birse

The Secretary. Mr. Hull proposed that it be the unanimous decision of the meeting that Mr. Molotov be elected permanent presiding officer.

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Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov welcomed the representatives of Great Britain and the United States and expressed the best wishes of his Government for the success of the meeting. He said if there were no objections he proposed to hold daily meetings except when, by agreement, other arrangements were made, and that these daily meetings would last from four until seven o’clock with such intermissions as might be desirable.

Mr. Eden. Mr. Eden said that he had no objection, but it would of course be understood that the sessions could be prolonged if the subject required it.

Mr. Molotov’s proposal was accepted.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov said that while he appreciated the compliment of the proposal that he be presiding officer at all meetings, he believed it would be better to rotate the chairmanship.

Both Mr. Hull and Mr. Eden objected and stated that it would be preferable in every way if Mr. Molotov would agree to preside at all meetings. Mr. Molotov accepted the chairmanship of the present meeting but reserved the right, if necessary, to raise the question of rotating the chairmanship at further sessions.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov stated that before proceeding to consideration of the agenda he desired to ascertain exactly what would be the powers of the representatives at this meeting and particularly whether it was Mr. Hull’s and Mr. Eden’s understanding that it would be possible for the conference to adopt resolutions binding their Governments on questions on which agreements had been reached at the meetings. He added that he was proceeding on the basis that these meetings were not only informative, but would have the power to take such binding resolutions on questions on which there was agreement and also the authority to prepare proposals on other questions for submission to the three Governments for decision.

The Secretary. Mr. Hull suggested that any proposals which might be submitted to the respective Governments for decision should include all pertinent data and other material brought out at the present meetings.

Mr. Eden. Mr. Eden said that he believed the question of decision for submission to their Governments would depend upon the character of the problems; there might be some things the representatives present here might be able to decide on the spot; others would of course have to be submitted to the three Governments for future decision.

The Secretary. Mr. Hull said that he was here under instructions not to take final decisions, but that this would not in any way preclude the submission of recommendations to the three Governments for information.

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Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov then summed up the question of powers as he envisaged them:

That there would be questions on which the representatives present could reach agreement and adopt resolutions binding their three Governments.
That there would be other questions on which there would be proposals subject to confirmation by the three Governments as formulated.
That there would be questions of a purely informational character which would involve merely an exchange of views. Mr. Molotov added that he wished to emphasize that in his view the meetings here were not to be narrowly informatory.

Mr. Eden. Mr. Eden expressed agreement with the division of questions into the categories as set forth by Mr. Molotov.

The Secretary. Mr. Hull said that he saw no grounds to fear decision on this point since the representatives here were being in constant and close touch with their Governments and would be able quickly to receive authorization if necessary. He added that we were here primarily for the purpose of preparing the ground for the meeting of the three heads of state at which definite decisions would be made, but that obviously in pursuing that aim the meetings as they went along would undoubtedly come to certain conclusions on matters arising out of this preparatory work, and that it would be possible in any case to receive authorization from the respective Governments to adopt resolutions upon any of these points. He proposed, therefore, that the meetings should proceed to the business of the conference.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov said that he would like to understand more clearly Mr. Hull’s observation as to whether it meant that this meeting was to have only the task of preparing the ground for the meeting of the three heads of state and could not even take decision on matters on which agreement had already been reached.

The Secretary. Mr. Hull replied that the representatives here, in his opinion, had full latitude to take all preparatory steps and to submit any proposals to the three heads of state and repeated that this would, of necessity, involve decisions incident to that aim, but that he did not envisage decisions on questions not directly connected with the preparatory work of the the meeting of the three heads of state.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov stated that it was unnecessary to dwell further on the preliminary questions but that it was clear to him that the representatives present would be able to take decisions on the basis of their existing powers, but that he would not object to a further clarification on this point, if necessary. He suggested, how [Page 580] ever, for the moment that the matter be left with Mr. Hull and Mr. Eden satisfied. Mr. Hull and Mr. Eden agreed.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov inquired whether there were any other preliminary questions which would be taken up before passing on to the agenda.

The Secretary. Mr. Hull referred to the matter of permitting the foreign correspondents in Moscow to send human-interest stories not connected with the work or progress of the conference in any way, concerning which he had spoken briefly to Mr. Molotov this afternoon. He added that it was his understanding that Mr. Molotov was agreeable to having the press representatives of the three Governments pass on such material before its release.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov said that he would repeat what he had already told Mr. Hull, namely, that anything that Mr. Hull or Mr. Eden desired to release to the foreign correspondents in Moscow would be passed by the censor without hindrance or delay.

Mr. Eden. Mr. Eden thanked Mr. Molotov for his statement on this point but added that personally while he understood the difficulties of the press he also was keenly alive to the vital importance of the work of this conference and he did not desire to see any material released to the press which would provide ground for speculation all over the world as to the progress of the work here, and he added that no publicity of any kind should be given out even though not directly related to the conference except by agreement among the press representatives of the three Powers.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov said that he did not see any real difference between the views of Mr. Hull and Mr. Eden on this point.

Mr. Eden. At Mr. Eden’s suggestion, it was agreed that the three Governments would designate their press representatives to meet and discuss this question.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov then said that he would proceed to the consideration of the agenda and distributed copies of the draft agenda which had been prepared by the Soviet Delegation.17 He suggested that there be called an intermission to consider this agenda. There was an intermission for approximately twenty minutes.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov stated that it would be noted that all of the suggestions submitted by the United States and British Governments had been included in the agenda with one omission, namely, the United States proposal regarding the Four-Power Declaration. He said that this point had not been included on the agenda since it was not clear to the Soviet Government from the correspondence with the British and American Governments whether this point was to be [Page 581] omitted or not. He added that if it was so desired this point could receive further consideration.

The Secretary. Mr. Hull stated that while he appreciated the reasons why the Four-Power Declaration which constituted point 1 in the accepted agenda had not been included, he was glad that Mr. Molotov had expressed willingness to put this point back on the agenda. He added that he considered that this proposal regarding the Four-Power Declaration affected so many aspects of the mutual interests of the three countries concerned in international collaboration that he proposed that it be made point 2 on the agenda following immediately after point 1 proposed by the Soviet Delegation.

Mr. Eden. Mr. Eden expressed entire agreement with Mr. Hull that the Four-Power Declaration should form point 2 of the agenda. Mr. Eden went on to suggest a number of changes in the order of the agenda after some discussion of the exact order of the other questions on the agenda.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov summed up the suggestions as follows: that the Soviet proposal for point 1 should remain. Point 2 would be the Four-Power Declaration submitted by the United States Delegation. Point 7 of the combined draft agenda should become point 3. Point 2 should become point 4 and point 3 to become point 5, and the rest of the questions on the combined agenda should be left in their present order. These changes were adopted without further question.18

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov stated that in regard to point 1 on the agenda it should be agreed that all proposals should be submitted in writing, that any decisions reached should be likewise reduced to writing. He then distributed English translations of the Soviet proposals in regard to point 1 on the agenda and read the text. A copy of the text is attached.* Mr. Molotov explained that although there were undoubtedly other methods of achieving the aims set forth in point 1 of the agenda submitted by the Soviet Delegation concerning the shortening of the war, the Soviet proposals had been restricted to the three points as set forth since they were regarded as the most important means to achieve that end. Mr. Molotov suggested that perhaps Mr. Eden and Mr. Hull would like to have time to discuss the Soviet proposals with their respective delegations and between themselves before proceeding further.

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The Secretary. Mr. Hull said that he would like to submit the proposals immediately to the consideration of the President.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov said that there was, of course, no objection to that and that they did not expect immediate discussion of the Soviet proposal.

The Secretary. Mr. Hull replied that he was not referring to discussion, which they were prepared to do at any time, but to the question of decision.

Mr. Eden. Mr. Eden said that he felt as Mr. Hull did and that it might be necessary to submit these proposals to his Government. He added that the British Delegation had come to Moscow prepared to give their Soviet allies all information regarding military decisions reached at Quebec19 and concerning military plans for the future. He said, however, that this work was not quite completed and he would like to have until tomorrow to finish it. He suggested, furthermore, that since the subject matter would be of the highest secrecy it might be well to submit the information in a restricted session of the heads of the delegations and their general officers for discussion of these military matters.

The Secretary. Mr. Hull stated that he would of course wish General Deane to attend in order to answer any Soviet questions on military matters.

Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov said that there was no objection to the heads of delegation and their military advisers alone attending the meeting, but that the heads of delegation should have the right to select the members they desired to have attend. He added that he wished to include Major General Glukov [Gryzlov] of the Soviet General Staff and Mr. Vyshinski, First Assistant Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

The Secretary. Mr. Hull said that he desired to have Ambassador Harriman also attend.

It was agreed that in view of the length of the subject which would be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting that the conference assemble in restricted session at three o’clock.

The conference thereupon adjourned until three o’clock, October 20, 1943.

  1. Drafted by Charles E. Bohlen of the American delegation.
  2. Not found in Department files.
  3. For text of the adopted agenda, see Conference Document No. 1, p. 703.
  4. This was a secret communication sent through to the White House by means other than State Department channels. It is not being attached hereto. [Footnote in the file copy. For text of the Soviet proposals, see the Most Secret Protocol, p. 770. Secretary Hull transmitted these proposals to the President in telegram Alusna 192114, through Navy channels. For the President’s reply to the paragraphs relating to Turkey and Sweden, see p. 644.]
  5. The First Quebec Conference, between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, with their advisers, was held August 17–24, 1943. The records of this Conference are scheduled for publication in a subsequent volume of Foreign Relations.