RSC Lot 60–D 224, Box 96: U.S. Cr. Min. 17 (Exec)

Minutes of the Seventeenth Meeting (Executive Session) of the United States Delegation, Held at San Francisco, Wednesday, April 25, 1945, 8:40 p.m.

[Informal Notes]

[Here follows list of names of persons (20) present at meeting.]

In opening the Meeting the Secretary reported that he had talked briefly over the telephone to the President concerning the events of [Page 408] the day; that the President had received an encouraging and conciliatory message from Marshal Stalin;21 and that the President was pleased with the progress of events in San Francisco.

The Secretary reported that he had talked to Mr. Hull on the telephone and that Mr. Hull was also pleased with the way events had moved in the opening session.

Election of Permanent President for Conference

The Secretary reported that he had just finished a conversation with Mr. Eden on the question of trying to find a compromise proposal which would be satisfactory to both the United States and the Soviet Union on the question of the election of a permanent President for the Conference. The Secretary stated that, in his view, the proposal to have four permanent Presidents—as suggested by the Soviet Delegation22 —was dangerous because it might form a pattern and precedent for the International Organization when it was established. The Secretary reported that President Truman felt that it would be a tragedy if such a proposal were accepted by the Conference, and stated that the President said it was his view that the Delegation should insist upon one presiding officer.

The Secretary reported that Mr. Eden advanced a compromise proposal under which there would be a council of four presidents with the United States member being chairman of the council and the directing head of the Conference. Each of the presidents would preside in rotation from day to day. Messrs. Dunn and Pasvolsky pointed out that, if under such an arrangement the chairman of the council could not act without the agreement of the other three, it would be a very difficult and wholly unsatisfactory arrangement. If, on the other hand, the chairman could act without such agreement, it would be satisfactory.

The Secretary said that, in his view, the British proposal would not be acceptable to the Soviet Union; that the latter wanted to have four presidents of the Conference with equal rank and authority. The Secretary then inquired from Ambassador Harriman as to whether in the latter’s view the Soviet Union would attempt to carry such a pattern over into the world organization. The Ambassador replied in the negative.

Senator Vandenberg raised the question as to what would happen if the United States maintained its position of proposing a single president as the operating head of the Conference. The Secretary replied that if such a position were maintained and agreement was not reached in the four-power consultations, then the matter would have to go to [Page 409] the Steering Committee of the Conference, in which event he felt sure that the United States would win its point. In that event, there was a good likelihood that Molotov might refuse to serve as a vice-chairman of the Conference, although there was no doubt in his mind that Eden and Soong would accept vice-chairmanships.

Mr. Hackworth pointed out that this same question had been involved in selecting the chairman of the Committee of Jurists at the meeting in Washington.23

Commander Stassen observed that the Soviet proposal for four chairmen of equal rank was really an application of the veto principle of the voting procedure in the Security Council.

In response to a request from the Secretary, Mr. Pasvolsky stated that it was his view that the United States should maintain its position that there should be only one President of the Conference, with three Vice-Presidents.

Representative Eaton also made it clear that it was his view that the Delegation should not accede to the Soviet position.

The Secretary then inquired of Messrs. Rockefeller and Dunn as to whether the other countries at the Conference would support the United States position. Mr. Rockefeller said that the Latin American representatives thought that the Soviet proposal for four chairmen was absurd; that in Inter-American conferences the chairman of the delegation of the host country always had the honor of being the permanent chairman of the conference; and that the Chilean representatives had specifically told Mr. Molotov that the Soviet proposal was absurd. Mr. Dunn stated that he could not answer positively what would be the attitude of the countries other than the Latin American ones, but that, in his opinion, most of them would feel that the issue was not important enough to incur the displeasure of the Soviet Union by voting against the Soviet proposal.

Mr. Pasvolsky then proposed that the United States could conceivably take a new position—different from both the British and the Soviet proposals—along the following lines: The Conference would have four chairmen for plenary sessions who would serve in rotation but that there would be no President of the Conference as such. Instead, the Secretary would serve as chairman of the Steering and Executive Committees of the Conference and would be responsible for the executive management of the Conference as a whole. Mr. Dulles said that, in his opinion, such a proposal if advanced by the United States, would be a blow to our prestige.

[Page 410]

Following a general discussion of the problems involved—in which Messrs. Bloom, Stassen, Armstrong and Connally participated—the Secretary asked which position, in the opinion of the Delegates and Advisers, should the United States assume. It was the unanimous opinion of the Delegates and Advisers that the Secretary should insist upon the United States position of one President for the Conference who would serve as its executive head.

Accordingly, the Secretary asked Mr. Hiss to telephone Sir Alexander Cadogan and to convey to him the fact that the United States Delegation would continue to maintain its position that there should be one presiding officer for the Conference and three vice-presidents representing the other sponsoring powers, with the understanding that such vice-presidents would be invited by the President of the Conference to preside over the plenary sessions.

Commission and Committee Assignments

Mr. Hiss said that the British Delegation was proposing a shift in the chairmanships of Commissions I and II. The current proposal was for Commission I to have as its chairman a representative from South Africa, while Commission II would have a representative from Belgium. The British were proposing that these two assignments be exchanged, so that Field Marshal Smuts, the South African representative, would become chairman of Commission II, where his prestige would be more greatly needed than in Commission I.24

The Delegation agreed to this proposal and Mr. Hiss was instructed to inform the British representatives of this fact.

Seating of Two Soviet Republics

At the request of the Secretary, Mr. Dunn reported a discussion that he had had with Ambassador Gromyko. He said that the United States had agreed to the Soviet proposal that the Executive Committee be enlarged by the addition of three more members. However, the Soviets refused to agree to the slate of Commission and Committee chairmen and officials because the two Soviet Republics were not listed for any of the positions. It so happened, Mr. Dunn reported, that there were two vacancies on the proposed slate of candidates, one a chairman of a Committee and another a rapporteur of a Committee. The Soviets wished to have representatives of the Ukrainian and White Russian Republics named to these two posts. Mr. Dunn stated that he had explained to Mr. Gromyko that such an assignment could [Page 411] not be made until the Conference had passed on the question of whether the Soviet Republics were to be seated.

The Secretary pointed out that it was possible to propose the slate of candidates for Commission and Committee posts without approval of the Soviet Union, and for the Steering Committee to refer the proposed membership to a special subcommittee. Mr. Rockefeller agreed to such a procedure, stating that he was sure the Latin American Republics would support it. Mr. Dunn stated that he was not so sure of the support of the European countries, particularly the smaller ones who might be wary of a Soviet reaction.

It was clear, the Secretary said, that this question was not only bringing into the first sessions of the Conference the question of admission of the two Soviet Republics as initial members of the International Organization but was also raising the problem of the status of Argentina. Mr. Stassen proposed that Argentina and the two Soviet Republics might be seated at the Conference daring the third week, although it could be agreed to earlier that they would become initial members of the International Organization. The Secretary pointed out that such a proposal was bound to meet opposition from President Truman, who was dead set against Argentina’s being admitted to the United Nations.

Mr. Dunn therefore suggested that the Secretary General of the Conference propose the slate of Commission and Committee posts as it stood, and if it were not accepted by the Steering Committee, it would then be referred to a special subcommittee of the Steering Committee. The Secretary stated that he was concerned as to the countries which would be appointed as members of such a Subcommittee.

During the discussion that followed, it was brought out that the Secretary had inquired from the President as to his attitude regarding a public announcement of the United States attitude on admitting the two Soviet Republics to the Organization. At this juncture Mr. Dunn reported that the Soviets had insisted that an item be placed on the agenda for the first meeting of the Steering Committee covering the question of the admission of the two Republics to the Organization.

The Secretary asked the Delegation’s opinion as to whether if this question of the two Republics was reached the next day in the Steering Committee, he should read President Truman’s letter to the Committee stating the reasons why the United States would support the Soviet proposal. Senator Connally felt that the reading of such a letter might expose the strategy being followed by the Delegation and would thus weaken its hand. Mr. Stassen also pointed out that reading the letter might carry the implication that the United States Delegation was supporting the Soviet proposal only because it was a commitment by former President Roosevelt, and in this event, it would tend to further weaken the United States position. Representative Bloom [Page 412] questioned the advisability of reading the letter, pointing out that what had been said in the letter had previously been stated publicly in the Secretary’s press statement of two or three weeks ago.25

Messrs. Dunn and Hiss tried to resolve the issue by pointing out that there would be really two proposals to be faced in the Steering Committee. The first of these would be whether the two Soviet Republics would become initial members of the general international organization, and the second would be whether they should be seated at the Conference. The Secretary said that in such event he thought the Delegation should vote to approve the first and to disapprove the second. Mr. Rockefeller said that in his opinion the Latin American countries would not support either of these proposals unless the Argentine question was settled; he pointed out that the Latin American countries would want to support the United States but would no doubt vote to defer action if they were free to do so.

At this point, Mr. Dulles stated that he felt that the discussion of the Delegation was dealing too much with the details of negotiations which the Secretary would have to face on the following day; that what was really needed was for the Delegation to settle the large issues involved and to leave to the Secretary the details of handling the negotiations themselves.

Again Mr. Rockefeller, in response to requests from members of the Delegation, made the point that if the approval of the seating of the two Soviet Republics were given by the Conference, the Argentina question would be up at once, since the Latin American Republics would feel that Argentina should be given equal treatment.

Reverting to the proposal of Commander Stassen that Argentina be seated three weeks after the Conference opened, the Secretary polled the Delegation—Dean Gildersleeve questioned the advisability of such a procedure; Senators Connally and Vandenberg approved the proposal, as did Representatives Bloom and Eaton and Commander Stassen. Dr. Bowman suggested that, in view of this opinion of the Delegation, he felt that the two Soviet Republics should be brought in at the same time.

The Secretary then raised the question as to whether he should see Molotov at once on the question of the two Soviet Republics. Messrs. Harriman and Bohlen stated that he should not do so unless he could give the assurance that the vote on the seating of the two Republics would be favorable. This, in turn, brought up the question of Argentina, and the Secretary again gave it as his opinion that the President would be very adamant on the Argentine question. Mr. Bohlen inquired as to whether the question of the two Soviet Republics could be separated from that of Argentina. Mr. Rockefeller replied that [Page 413] that would be giving away our bargaining position with the Latin American countries.

Dr. Bowman said that the issues seemed to resolve into the following points: (1) whether to admit the two Soviet Republics to initial membership; (2) whether to seat the two Soviet Republics at the Conference; and (3) whether to admit Argentina and seat it at the Conference. He gave it as his opinion that the United States position on item (1) was clear, but that decision on items (2) and (3) would have to be delayed until the matters could be cleared with the President.

The Secretary then inquired the opinion of the Delegation as to whether they would agree to the seating of both of the Soviet Republics and Argentina within, say, three weeks from the opening of the Conference. Representative Bloom and Senator Connally agreed to such a procedure. Senator Vandenberg at first disapproved, then subsequently reserved his position. Representative Eaton agreed to the position, as did Commander Stassen. In this connection, Senator Connally also said that he felt that the United States Delegation was quibbling over an interpretation of the words “original member”; that if the United States were committed to the admission of the two Republics as original members, it seemed to be morally committed also to seating them at the Conference. The Secretary was very insistent that no such commitment as the latter had ever been made.

The Secretary then said that he would call the President early in the morning and state that the majority of the Delegation agreed to the admission of the two Soviet Republics as original members of the organization and that the two Soviet Republics and Argentina should be seated at the Conference at a later date. At this point the Secretary and Representative Eaton left the meeting.

Rapporteur of Steering Committee

Mr. Rockefeller said that since Chile had been moved to a post on the Executive Committee of the Conference, a question of prestige among the Latin American Republics was raised. Therefore, lie proposed that Cuba be made the rapporteur for the Steering Committee, a post which did not appear on the Conference chart at the time.

After discussion, Mr. Rockefeller’s proposal was approved and Mr. Dunn was asked to clear it with the British, Chinese and Soviet Delegations.

. . . . . . .

The meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m. with the agreement of the Delegation that they would convene again at 9:30 the next morning.

  1. For message of April 24 from Marshal Stalin to President Truman, see vol. v, p. 263.
  2. See minutes of meeting of the Foreign Ministers, April 23, 9:35 p.m., p. 363.
  3. For documentation on the United Nations Committee of Jurists meeting in Washington from April 9 to April 20, 1945, see The International Court of Justice; also UNCIO Documents, vol. 14. For note of April 11 from Ambassador Gromyko to Secretary Stettinius protesting the failure to accept the Soviet proposal regarding the question of chairmanship, see ante, p. 269.
  4. See table entitled “Proposed allocation of Commission and Committee officerships”, doc. 45, ST/1, May 1, UNCIO Documents, vol. 5, p. 169; chart entitled “Organization, Functions and Officerships”, doc. 67, G/20, May 5, ibid., vol. 1, p. 79; and list of officials of technical Commissions and Committees, doc. 639, G/3 (2), May 28, ibid., p. 10.
  5. For press statement of April 3, see Department of State Bulletin, April 8, 1945, p. 600.