Truman Papers

Department of State Minutes

top secret

The meeting of Foreign Ministers began at 11:30 on Friday, July 20, 1945. Mr. Molotov was in the Chair.

Mr. Molotov stated that the first question on the agenda was the German economic paper, which unfortunately was not yet ready. The question must therefore go over until tomorrow. He inquired concerning the status of the Polish paper, which was the second question on the agenda.

Mr. Vyshinski stated that the committee had met yesterday and today but had not yet been able to produce a report. He hoped for results by tonight.

Mr. Molotov passed the subject over until tomorrow.

Council of Foreign Ministers

Mr. Molotov stated that the third question on the agenda was that of the peace settlement or the establishment of the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Byrnes had suggested that a subcommittee be appointed to draft on this matter. He asked whether the subcommittee’s report was ready.

[Page 144]

Mr. Molotov stated that no subcommittee had been appointed.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that the paper had been referred back to the drafting committee established to consider it.

Mr. Molotov asked whether there is a general drafting committee to cover all questions.

Mr. Byrnes replied that a special committee had been appointed to draft the document on the Council of Foreign Ministers. The committee is working, and Mr. Byrnes wished to know whether they had completed their report.

Mr. Molotov asked who was acting on behalf of the American delegation.

Mr. Byrnes stated that Mr. Dunn and Mr. Cohen had been appointed.

Mr. Cohen stated that because of the fact that Sobolev was busy the committee had not been able to meet until this morning and its work was not yet finished.

Mr. Byrnes remarked that nothing could be done until the committee had reported. Mr. Byrnes then suggested that the document on the implementation of the Yalta declaration on liberated areas1 be placed on the agenda for the meeting of the Heads of States this afternoon.

Mr. Molotov replied that this question would come up next and that the Russian delegation also wanted to reach agreement on the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Byrnes stated that the American delegation is extremely anxious to reach agreement on the Council of Foreign Ministers and that he was willing to ask his appointees to leave the table to begin work immediately.

Mr. Molotov replied that the Soviet member of the drafting committee is now in an economic meeting.

Mr. Byrnes inquired whether it was possible to substitute someone else for him since the economic meetings had been going on for a long time and might continue.

Mr. Molotov then suggested that the matter be settled by the Foreign Ministers without reference to the subcommittee.

Mr. Byrnes stated it was his understanding that there were two or three separate proposals being considered by the subcommittee.

Mr. Molotov then said that it was better to leave the matter to the subcommittee and not discuss it in the present meeting.

Mr. Eden suggested that the matter go over until tomorrow.

Mr. Byrnes then asked if agreement could be reached that the [Page 145] proposal under consideration by the subcommittee2 should be submitted to the Heads of State this afternoon. He remarked that the Foreign Ministers could, if necessary, meet a few minutes before the regular meeting to discuss it.

Mr. Byrnes went on to suggest that if Mr. Eden preferred a short recess could be taken to discuss the matter.

Mr. Molotov then pointed out that the document was not available.

Mr. Byrnes thereupon renewed his request for consideration at 4 p.m.

Mr. Molotov suggested 3:45 p.m., and this was agreed to.3

Discussion of Agenda

Mr. Molotov suggested that the day’s agenda be concerned with (1) the Yalta declaration; (2) the western frontiers of Poland; (3) trusteeship questions; and (4) the fixing of an agenda for the Big Three.

Mr. Byrnes asked whether this agenda was for the present meeting or for the afternoon meeting.

Mr. Molotov stated that the last point on today’s agenda is the Big Three agenda. He asked whether the agenda suggested was acceptable and stated that the Soviet delegation had certain draft proposals to circulate.

Mr. Eden remarked that neither the trusteeship question nor the Polish boundaries had been referred to the present meeting by the Heads of State.

Mr. Byrnes suggested that the paper on the implementation of the Yalta declaration be placed on the Big Three agenda, and added that he had no objection to consideration of the western frontiers of Poland.

Mr. Molotov stated that the meeting was not discussing at this time the agenda for the afternoon meeting but for the present meeting.

Mr. Eden insisted that the Foreign Ministers’ agenda should be based on matters referred to them by the Big Three.

Mr. Molotov replied that this was not necessarily so. If the Foreign Ministers didn’t want to discuss a matter, it went to the Big Three, but he wanted to discuss the matters he had mentioned.

Mr. Byrnes replied that the Big Three had assigned certain questions to the Foreign Ministers and that these questions should be discussed first. He asked what questions had been so assigned.

Mr. Molotov mentioned the German economic question, the Polish [Page 146] question, and the implementation of the Yalta declaration. He asked what other matters had been assigned to them.

Mr. Byrnes stated that the declaration on liberated Europe had been passed over on the request of the Generalissimo since he had wanted to circulate a paper.4

Mr. Molotov stated that the Soviet delegation had the paper now and asked whether the Soviet draft5 could be considered. After consideration by the Foreign Ministers the question will pass to the Big Three.

Mr. Byrnes remarked that it would be helpful to circulate the paper and consider it in the present meeting.

Mr. Molotov stated that he wished to make it clear that the agenda mentioned by him was for this meeting.

Mr. Eden again remarked that he was unable to understand the consideration of questions not referred to the Foreign Ministers by the Chiefs of State.

Mr. Molotov then suggested that the meeting dispose of all questions referred to them.

Mr. Eden replied that these questions did not include either Poland or trusteeship.

Mr. Molotov stated that the Yalta declaration had not been discussed yesterday because no draft6 was available. He would now circulate drafts, after which it could be discussed.

Mr. Eden agreed but asked why other items referred to them were not used.

Mr. Molotov asked about specific items.

Mr. Eden cited the questions of Spain and Rumanian oil.

Mr. Molotov asked whether Spain would be considered.

Mr. Byrnes replied that the question had been referred to the Foreign Ministers. He went on to state that on July 17 the President had proposed that the three Heads of State support the admission of Italy to international organizations.7 Mr. Byrnes now proposed the appointment of a subcommittee to draft a declaration on this matter. Mr. Byrnes went on to propose that instructions to the committee should include a statement that the three powers would not support the entrance of Spain into international organizations so long as Spain remained under the control of the present regime there.

Mr. Molotov asked whether he correctly understood that Mr. Byrnes was suggesting the appointment of a subcommittee on Italy and Spain.

[Page 147]

Mr. Byrnes replied that this subcommittee should be appointed only to carry out the President’s suggestion of the 17th, in addition to the inclusion of a mention of Spain.

Mr. Molotov agreed to both.

Mr. Eden asked what committee was contemplated.

Mr. Byrnes replied, a drafting committee composed of persons who are not too busy.

Mr. Eden pointed out that this was not entirely a drafting matter but was primarily political.

Mr. Molotov agreed that the subcommittee could not work without the delegates.

Mr. Byrnes suggested that a subcommittee could prepare a document for discussion by the Big Three.

Mr. Eden stated his belief that the Foreign Ministers must agree on principles on which the committee could work.

Mr. Molotov agreed that the matter could be put on the agenda.

Mr. Eden asked whether it would come up in the present meeting.

Mr. Byrnes stated that if Mr. Eden wanted to discuss it now he agreed.

Mr. Molotov then reraised the matter of the agenda, which he recapitulated as

Liberated Europe.

Other items could be added if these are not enough.

Mr. Byrnes asked for a consideration of the Big Three agenda.

Mr. Molotov said that the first question is Italy.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that the American position on Italy had been set forth in the President’s paper of July 17.8

Mr. Eden stated his general agreement with the American position. He thought it was a good idea to favor the admission of certain states and clearly to state that we do not favor the admission of Spain into international organizations. He asked whether more could not be done. Specifically he recommended the admission into international organizations of all neutral governments but Spain, since this would make the reference to Spain more pointed.

Mr. Byrnes agreed. His suggestion9 had been for the admission of Italy and the declaration regarding the non-admission of Spain. He agreed to the British suggestion that other neutral governments be added.

Mr. Molotov inquired what governments Mr. Eden had in mind and asked whether this was a secret.

[Page 148]

Mr. Eden mentioned Sweden, Portugal, and Switzerland.

Mr. Byrnes stated his assumption that this was only to strengthen stated disapproval of Spain.

Mr. Eden pointed out that the situation in Portugal was not the same as that in Spain.

Mr. Byrnes believed that this would strengthen the statement and would be in line with the Generalissimo’s position.

Mr. Eden suggested that we say that we favor the entrance of all neutral states except Spain.

Mr. Molotov then asked whether Italy would be liable for the payment of reparations.

Mr. Byrnes asked what they would pay with.

Mr. Eden agreed but stated that in principle Italy would be liable.

Mr. Molotov stated his understanding that Italy had signed an instrument of unconditional surrender.10

Mr. Eden remarked that any declaration on the admission of Italy into international organizations should contain the phrase “on conclusion of peace”.

Mr. Molotov insisted that somebody must consider the question of Italian reparations.

Mr. Eden pointed out that this question would be dealt with in the peace settlement. Italy’s admission into international organizations would be conditional upon the fulfillment of her engagements. However, he frankly felt that Italy would be unable to pay.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that the United States Government has already advanced $200,000,000 to Italy and would probably have to advance $400,000,000 or $500,000,000 more. Therefore reparations do not seem to the United States to be an immediate problem.

Mr. Molotov asked whether it would be just to have small Finland paying large reparations and large Italy paying none. He asked how this would be understood by the world.

Mr. Eden asked what connection the question of reparations had with admission into international organizations. Reparations would be settled in the peace treaty and should have no effect on entrance into international organizations.

Mr. Molotov pointed out that United Nations do not pay reparations.

Mr. Byrnes remarked that when the peace treaty was concluded it might be possible to work out some plan for Italy in future years to arrange some form of payment. However, in the best spirit he felt [Page 149] that he must say that the United States does not intend to make advances to any country in order that reparations may be paid by them.

Mr. Molotov stated that he had not suggested this.

Mr. Byrnes replied that he knew that but wanted to make the situation perfectly clear.

Mr. Molotov suggested that the subcommittee to be appointed might consider the question of the advisability of reparations from Italy.

Mr. Byrnes stated that the American position was that reparations should be decided at an early peace settlement. The United States wanted the peace settlement done and out of the way. He went on to state that the President’s specific proposal in the last paragraph did not contemplate the question of reparations. He read the section of the proposal in question.

Mr. Molotov stated that he had no objection to the appointment of a subcommittee but that reparations should be discussed.

Mr. Byrnes felt that it was unnecessary for the subcommittee to consider this point: it must be considered by the Big Three. The Foreign Ministers could make recommendations but the subcommittee could not help us decide on revision of the short-term surrender document. The only purpose of the committee suggested is to draft a statement on the admission of Italy into international organizations and our objection to Spain becoming a member thereof.

Mr. Molotov then suggested that when the Foreign Ministers reported to the Big Three on the establishment of this subcommittee it be suggested that the question of reparations be referred to this or another subcommittee.

Mr. Byrnes stated that he would not object to the reference of the reparations question to the subcommittee charged with the consideration of reparations matters.

Mr. Molotov agreed and then referred to the fact that Mr. Eden had mentioned states other than Italy. He asked for the inclusion of states which were enemy states but are now cobelligerents.

Mr. Eden stated that this could be considered and Mr. Byrnes agreed.

Mr. Eden then pointed out that from the British point of view it was essential that the conclusion of the peace treaty precede admission into international organizations.

Mr. Molotov agreed.

Mr. Eden remarked that the contrast between neutral states and Spain was greater than between other states and Spain.

Mr. Byrnes suggested that the reparations subcommittee might also consider the question of Austrian reparations.

Mr. Molotov and Mr. Eden agreed.

[Page 150]

Mr. Molotov asked that members of the committee to draft on admissions into international organizations be named.

Mr. Byrnes named Mr. Matthews and Mr. Cannon.

Mr. Eden named Mr. Hoyer Millar and Mr. Dean.

Mr. Molotov named Mr. Maisky.

Mr. Byrnes then restated his understanding that reparations questions go to the present reparations committee.

Yalta Declaration on Liberated Europe

Mr. Molotov then raised the question of the Yalta declaration on liberated Europe and circulated the Soviet draft.11

Mr. Eden , with some warmth, stated that he would like to say at once that the description of Greece given in the Soviet proposal is a complete travesty of fact. The Soviet Government had no representatives in Greece, although they were free to go there. The press of the whole world was free to go to Greece and see for themselves and tell the world without censorship what was going on. Unfortunately this was not possible in either Rumania or Bulgaria. The Greeks proposed regular elections open to all parties. The present Greek Government had invited international observers to regulate these elections. Unfortunately the situation in Rumania and Bulgaria was not the same.

Mr. Molotov stated that there were missions in Rumania and Bulgaria, including British representatives.

Mr. Eden replied that these representatives had few facilities to see anything and still less to get anything done. In addition, the press was not permitted freely to operate in these countries.

Mr. Molotov remarked that the number of British representatives in Rumania and Bulgaria was greater than the number of Soviet representatives. It was true that there were no British troops, but there were many political representatives. It was his understanding that the British Government had enough people there to keep it informed. In addition, Mr. Eden knew that the Soviet representatives had recently made proposals for greater cooperation.12

Mr. Eden replied that he now hoped that the situation would improve.

Mr. Molotov asked what suggestions there were.

Mr. Byrnes stated that so far as the United States was concerned it had hoped that the spirit of the Yalta declaration would be carried into effect. However, the governments in the countries concerned have restricted the movement of our representatives and the press has been denied admission. This had become a source of great irritation [Page 151] among our people. They believe that the Yalta agreement contemplated early elections. Mr. Byrnes considered that the determination of policy in these countries should not be the sole burden of one of the three powers but should be shared by all of them, and he felt that steps should be taken to see that the governments in question should not discriminate against either the Soviet, British, or American Governments. In view of the attitude of the governments concerned, we could not recognize them at this time. At Yalta we agreed in the declaration on liberated Europe, among other things, to form interim governments broadly representative of all democratic elements of the people and pledged to the earliest possible establishment of a government through free elections. If such elections were held, the United States would gladly recognize any governments resulting therefrom. It cannot do so now. As long as the governments in question deny to American representatives and press an opportunity to observe and report on conditions, recognition will be difficult.

Mr. Molotov stated that there were no excesses in Bulgaria or Rumania comparable to those taking place in Greece. He cited the American and British press as authority for this statement. He went on to say that there was no trouble in Bulgaria or Rumania. He admitted restrictions on British and American representatives during the war but stated that things will be different now. The Soviet representatives in the countries in question have therefore already made suggestions in Hungary, Bulgaria, and Rumania to the American and British representatives regarding the future operation of the control councils. He was willing to discuss the matter at this meeting. He pointed out that no elections had been held in Italy despite the fact that Italy had been out of the war for some time. Nevertheless, the United States has diplomatic representatives there. It was therefore difficult to understand why the United States should not recognize Bulgaria and Rumania, which gave greater assistance to the war effort than Italy. In any event, the Soviet Government can no longer delay diplomatic recognition of these countries. He suggested the consideration of a draft either in the present meeting or in a subcommittee.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that our press was able to get an account of conditions in Greece but was unable to do so in Bulgaria and Rumania. Many misunderstandings might disappear if the press was permitted to operate in these countries.

Mr. Molotov stated that there was no objection to this.

Mr. Byrnes replied that he was sure that the Soviet Union did not object but the governments of these countries do. In Greece the United States is impressed by the fact that the Greeks invite us to supervise their elections. He had just this morning addressed to [Page 152] Mr. Molotov a letter inviting Russia to participate in the supervision of these elections.13

Mr. Molotov stated that there was no doubt of free elections in Rumania and Bulgaria, which would be held as soon as candidates could be nominated.

Mr. Byrnes asked whether the British Empire had been consulted regarding elections in Rumania and Bulgaria.

Mr. Eden replied that it had not.

Mr. Molotov confirmed this statement.

Mr. Eden pointed out the difference between Greece, where all parties would participate in the elections, and Bulgaria, where the vote would be only for or against a set list. This did not meet the British idea of democracy. The press of the world could send anything out of Greece, and this included the TASS representative. On the other hand, British press representatives could send nothing out of Rumania or Bulgaria without extremely heavy censorship.

Mr. Molotov said that censorship had been hard during the war but would be better now.

Mr. Byrnes recalled that at Yalta we, and particularly President Roosevelt, had wanted to see Poland and other governments bordering Russia friendly to the Soviet Union. The United States has no interest in the Governments of Rumania and Bulgaria except that they be representative of the people and permit our representatives and press to observe conditions freely.

Mr. Molotov suggested that methods be discussed.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that if elections are held without asking for supervision by the Big Three, and governments were established which were distrusted generally by the people of our country, it will affect our relations. If the Big Three will see to it that free elections are held, the United States would recognize any government formed. We are interested in having governments friendly toward Russia.

Mr. Molotov stated that there was no reason to fear delay or that elections would not be free. However, the situation in Greece was different. The situation was dangerous. Mr. Molotov cited warlike speeches made in Greece against neighboring countries.

Mr. Eden interjected that he was aware that the Yugoslav press and radio were accusing Greece of aggressive intentions. The same charges were contained in the document presented this morning by the Soviet delegation.

[Page 153]

Mr. Molotov insisted that there is no connection between the Soviet document and the Yugoslav Government.

Mr. Eden replied that he had only said that the language was the same. He pointed out that the Prime Minister yesterday had given figures proving that it was ludicrous to talk about an aggressive Greece.14 This was quite apart from the presence of British troops in Greece. He could only suppose that our Soviet Allies do not accept British assurances regarding the number of Greek troops. Greece has neither the intention nor the means to be aggressive.

Mr. Molotov remarked that Mr. Eden’s logic was correct, but the facts were that warlike speeches were being made.

Mr. Eden replied that he was well aware of the storm of abuse coming over the Moscow and Yugoslav radios regarding Greece, but could only say that these stories were not correct.

Mr. Molotov stated the facts had been obtained from the American and British press.

Mr. Eden at this point stated his hope that the Soviet paper would be withdrawn. It was an unhappy paper regarding an Ally.

Mr. Molotov replied that he was asking for consideration and for the facts.

Mr. Eden said that it was easy for the Soviet Government to go and look at the facts.

Mr. Molotov suggested that an end should be put to the reign of terror in Greece and that the Government should be reorganized.

Mr. Eden reiterated that there was no terror.

Mr. Molotov again remarked that he had read about it in the British press.

Mr. Byrnes stated that it was unwise to base actions of this sort on press accounts. He was impressed by the fact that we could send representatives to Greece freely and to evaluate information received regarding conditions in that country. Since we are unable to do the same in Rumania and Bulgaria, all sorts of rumors are flying about which affect relations so long as we cannot check them.

Mr. Molotov asked that the American and British Governments say what they want and promised that they could have it.

Mr. Byrnes replied that Mr. Molotov should see that we could send representatives where they wished to go and also permit the press to come in in order that information might flow freely.

Mr. Molotov insisted that American representatives now have the right and the press also, except for essential military censorship.

[Page 154]

Mr. Byrnes remarked that the difficulty is that the Soviet Foreign Minister is not there. Our representatives say that they are not permitted privileges. When they report that they are denied such privileges, we must accept their report.

Mr. Molotov again referred to the suggested improvement in operations made by the Soviet representatives in Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary.

Mr. Eden remarked that there was no reference to the press in these suggestions.

Mr. Byrnes welcomed the statement that we should consult and decide. The difficulty had arisen out of the fact that we haven’t been consulted. He felt that the recent proposals constituted a step forward even though they did not cover the press.

Mr. Molotov stated that there was no doubt about the situation of the press. It would be the same as in Italy.

Mr. Eden said “or in Greece”.

Mr. Byrnes stated that if we can accomplish that with certainty, we would be making great progress.

Mr. Molotov stressed the necessity for a common understanding. The government in Greece must be more representative and not warlike.

Mr. Eden remarked that the Greeks were only warlike in the imagination of their neighbors. He stated that only this morning he had suggested Soviet participation in the supervision of elections.14a

Mr. Byrnes added that our information is that the Greek Government wishes us to supervise elections.

Mr. Eden pointed out that we would like the same procedure in other countries. He stated that he did not know what more the Greek Government could do than they were doing.

Mr. Molotov referred to the Varkiza agreement,15 which he termed excellent, but added that it was not being carried out and people were complaining.

Mr. Eden stated that he wished to report on the Soviet document to the Prime Minister, since it contained grave charges against the British Government.

Mr. Molotov denied this and stated that the charges were against the Greek Government.

[Page 155]

Mr. Eden replied that Mr. Molotov knew very well that the British have troops in Greece. It was necessary to take the gravest exception to this Soviet document.

Mr. Byrnes stated that the American Government is not anxious to supervise elections in any country. It regrets the necessity for so doing. But because we are satisfied that it is necessary in order to improve conditions, we would be willing to participate in the supervision of elections in Italy, Greece, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The world knows we meant what we said at Yalta. Settlement of this matter would remove a source of irritation between us.

Mr. Eden suggested that each delegation draft its own requirements about what we want in each country.

Mr. Molotov , referring to the Soviet document, said that the Soviet suggestions are ready.

Mr. Eden replied that the Soviet suggestions stated that everything was all right in Rumania and Bulgaria and all wrong in Greece.

Mr. Byrnes suggested that instead of finding fault with each other an agreement be drafted providing for the supervision of free elections in Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Hungary, in addition to provision for freedom of the press.

Mr. Eden remarked that this was exactly what he had meant.

Mr. Molotov stated that the Soviet delegation had set forth its position in its document. He saw no reason to supervise elections in Rumania and Bulgaria. The press was now more free. However, he was willing to consider written suggestions. He suggested that drafts be prepared and hoped that they might be finished today.

Agenda for Meeting of Heads of State

The following agenda was set for the meeting of Heads of State on July 20:

Council of Foreign Ministers.
Italy (on this point Mr. Byrnes made it clear that the document to be discussed was the President’s paper circulated on July 1716 and not the question of admission to international organizations,17 or reparations,18 which had been referred to appropriate subcommittees).
The western borders of Poland (Soviet paper and maps circulated).19
Trusteeship (paper circulated).20

  1. Presumably document No. 745, post. For the text of the Yalta Declaration on Liberated Europe, see document No. 1417, post, section v.
  2. Not found. Cf. documents Nos. 712 and 713, post.
  3. No minutes for a meeting of the Foreign Ministers preceding the afternoon meeting of the Heads of Government have been found. Cf. post, p. 163.
  4. See ante, p. 127.
  5. Documents Nos. 804 and 1064, post.
  6. i. e., no Soviet draft.
  7. See ante, p. 53.
  8. Document No. 1089, post.
  9. See document No. 727, post.
  10. See the instrument of surrender by Italy signed at Malta, September 29, 1943 (Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1604; 61 Stat. (3) 2742).
  11. Documents Nos. 804 and 1064, post.
  12. See document No. 309, printed in vol. i , and documents Nos. 796 and 797, post.
  13. Document No. 1061, post. For Molotov’s reply, see document No. 1063, post.
  14. See ante, p. 116.
  15. Presumably in a communication parallel to Byrnes’ invitation (document No. 1061, post).
  16. Of February 12, 1945, between the Greek Government and the Greek National Liberation Front. See vol. i, documents Nos. 442 and 443. The text of the Varkiza Agreement is printed in C. M. Woodhouse, Apple of Discord: A Survey of Recent Greek Politics in Their International Setting (London, 1948), p. 308.
  17. Document No. 1089, post.
  18. Document No. 727, post.
  19. No document on reparations from Italy circulated on or before July 20 has been found. Cf. ante, pp. 148150.
  20. Document No. 1145, post. Maps not found.
  21. Document No. 733, post.