Truman Papers

Page Minutes
top secret

Council of Foreign Ministers

At lunch today with Mr. Molotov and Mr. Eden, The Secretary took occasion to express his views on the work of the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Eden was obliged to leave immediately after lunch and was not present during the majority of the conversation.

The main points which Secretary Byrnes brought out and Mr. Molotov’s reactions thereto are as follows:

1. The Secretary expressed the desirability, in general, to avoid a general peace conference made up of delegates from fifty-odd nations. Such a conference would result in endless discussions and in no satisfactory results. Small nations not having direct interests in important European questions should not be given the opportunity to air their views thereon. The Prime Minister and Mr. Eden did not appear to agree, but it was not likely [unlikely?] that they would do so when they had given more thought to the matter.

Mr. Molotov indicated that he was in accord with the Secretary’s views on the desirability of avoiding a general peace conference.

2. In reply to Mr. Molotov’s inquiry, The Secretary stated that he thought the Council of Foreign Ministers should convene in London on September 1. This meeting should be of an organizational character in which directives would be issued to the staffs of the Foreign Ministers and then the Foreign Ministers should return home. This, as other meetings, should not require the presence of the Foreign Ministers for more than a week or ten days on each occasion.

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Mr. Molotov stated that he agreed that the first meeting should take place on September 1 and appeared pleased to hear the Secretary’s views to the effect that the Foreign Ministers would not have to be away from their respective governments for more than a week or ten days.

3. The Secretary stated that it was of major importance that a high ranking assistant to the Foreign Secretaries be appointed. Such assistants or deputies should have power and authority to reach decisions on questions not having primary importance without referring back to their respective governments or Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Molotov fully agreed. He stated that the Foreign Ministers were too busy to give attention to matters not having primary importance. He asked whom the United States would designate as Mr. Byrnes’ deputy.

Mr. Byrnes stated that the man had not been chosen.

Mr. Molotov indicated that the Soviet Government had not as yet selected his deputy.

4. Mr. Byrnes recommended that a competent staff of experts be appointed to work on the problems at issue and, when the decisions were reached, to present their briefs to the Foreign Ministers. This work should be done in the interim periods between the meetings of the Foreign Ministers. After consideration of these briefs the Foreign Ministers should convene again, and if considered advisable, in the localities of the question under consideration (Trieste, for example) to examine the question. If necessary the parties interested in the issue might be called in.

Mr. Molotov appeared to be fully in accord with Mr. Byrnes’ views on this question.

5. Mr. Byrnes further suggested that the United Nations be informed of action contemplated or taken by the Three Governments on recommendation of the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Molotov again concurred.

6. In reply to Mr. Molotov’s inquiry as to whether any draft Italian peace treaty had been drawn up, The Secretary answered in the negative. He suggested that upon the return of the Foreign Ministers to their respective capitals instructions immediately be issued to prepare such drafts and that the views of the Three Governments be exchanged prior to the first meeting of the Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Molotov indicated his approval of this suggestion.