740.00119 Council/9–1145

United States Delegation Minutes of the Seventeenth Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, London, September 22, 1945, 5:30 p.m.

Mr. Molotov in the Chair

Molotov said there was a proposal that they take up the next item on the agenda, the removal of the Soviet and British troops from Iran.

Bevin said this was on the agenda as a result of the Berlin Conference. As a result of conversations between the British and Soviet Governments agreement had been reached on complete withdrawal in accordance with the treaty six months after September 10 [2?], and he thought it unnecessary to trouble the Council with it.

Molotov said the Soviet Delegation could make known that the Soviet Government had carried out the decision of the Berlin Conference, and Soviet troops had already withdrawn from Tehran. As to the withdrawal from all of Iran, the Soviet Union stood by and would continue to stand by the treaty between Great Britain, the Soviet Union and Iran. He supported Bevin’s proposal.

Bidault said he had been informed that this morning’s meeting had been postponed, a decision that was taken without consulting [Page 317] him. He wanted it understood by all his colleagues that in a conference of this kind, and in any future conference that in no case would a decision be taken without consulting the French Delegation whose good will was well known to everybody. He was very surprised that a decision like that taken had been decided without previous consultation. He did not know the motive of the delay. He knew the agenda adopted, and that it was agreed that there could be discussion on any item of that agenda. It would be helpful not to be confronted by a fait accompli by anyone. France did not want to be obstructive. A country such as France had its rights. He hoped the conference would continue with its agenda.

Molotov said he wished to give some explanations. The initiative in postponing the meeting lay with the Soviet Delegation. The representatives of Britain and the United States had agreed to postponing that meeting. This was done in the morning, and the opinion of the French and Chinese Delegations was sought, and they agreed.

He now wished to say a few words on the reasons and merits of the question. The Soviet Delegation thought it necessary to restore the Berlin decision for the procedure of their discussions. They thought, they had violated the Berlin decisions by not following paragraph 3(b) of the Berlin decisions,63 and had adopted a new procedure. The Soviet Delegation believed the new procedure was not helpful and caused delays. The drawback of the procedure they had adopted was that they departed from the procedure established by the Berlin Conference which provided for participation of the Foreign Ministers on an equal basis. The procedure they adopted gave some of the Ministers full rights in the discussion of certain questions, and others did not have full rights or restricted rights in the discussion of certain questions. An end should be put to this by strictly following the Berlin decision. The problem for them was to restore the decision of the Berlin Conference, and the purpose was to speed up the work of the Conference.

Bevin said that he was not going to try to get into a discussion at this stage, but there was one point—Molotov had used the word “we”. He thought they should go on record that he meant the Soviet Delegation. He thought their procedure was right.

Molotov said he meant only the Soviet Delegation.

Bidault asked whether that meant that they go back on the decisions taken by this conference regarding the treaties with Finland, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria. What did they decide, or did they decide nothing?

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Byrnes said that his understanding was that there was no decision at all, that the matter was passed over with the statement that we go through the agenda and consider the matter of the peace treaties as they come.

This was agreed to.

International Waterways

Molotov stated that the question of international waterways had been a subject of discussion at the Berlin Conference under the heading, “International Internal [Inland] Waterways”, and the following decision had been adopted at the Conference. The Conference examined the proposal by the American Delegation regarding this question64 and agreed to defer it to the consideration of the forthcoming conference of the Council of Ministers for Foreign Affairs in London. The question arose, “What is an international waterway?” Where could the definition be found? Up to now they had had no definition on this, and the question was what were they really in effect discussing. The initiative in raising this question lay with the American Delegation. Perhaps the American Delegation could make clear what international waterways were.

Byrnes replied that the paper which the United States had submitted65 set forth the waterways which for the purpose of this emergency proposal would be considered international waterways. He said that at the conference in Potsdam the matter was presented by the President, who stated that he had great interest in having something done about this matter. Before the war these waterways supported a traffic in excess of 150 million tons of shipping a year. Nearly four months had passed since the end of hostilities, yet only on one of these waterways, the Kiel Canal, was through traffic possible today. The United States had cleared its portion of the Rhine so that traffic could move between Karlsruhe and Coblenz, and it was understood that presently a narrow channel on the section between Duisburg and Rotterdam, but on other sections of the river great effort would be needed to afford a safe channel. He understood that navigation is blocked on the Elbe and the Oder so that no goods could pass into or out of Czechoslovakia and Polish territory by this route. Despite the great efforts made by the Soviet Government to clear the Danube of mines, navigation was not yet open on that great waterway. If these European rivers could be opened before freezing [Page 319] this winter, and shipping started on a large scale, much could be done to alleviate present conditions. Fuel and relief supplies from the United States could reach the needy in this area via the Black Sea, North Sea, and Baltic ports.

The United States was ready to cooperate in this undertaking and would direct its engineer forces in Europe to work together with others in restoring navigation facilities as quickly as possible. We would be glad to make arrangements for making shipping located in the zone of control of the United States available for use which may not be required for military needs, if the commissions dealt with by this agreement can be established.

There were quantities of fertilizer which were reported to be in the United States’ area. We could then take steps to move that fertilizer to agricultural areas in need of such material if free navigation could be restored on these rivers. Because of the bridges being down and the roads blocked the transportation on land has been in a chaotic condition. This emergency proposal would enable us to use the waterways to great advantage toward giving relief we all wanted to see given to the people. It was only a temporary proposal that we were offering, hoping that we could agree upon a project of that kind. If we worked together and cooperated, we could clear out these rivers. We could put traffic back on the rivers. Then, three months from this time, as was provided in the last article, we could hold a conference to determine what should be done about a permanent regime.

Molotov said the reason why he had put this question was that he had not formed a clear idea of the substance by the material submitted by the American Delegation. He had before him a document presented by the American Delegation on the 23rd of July.66 This document contained a reference to such waterways as cross two or more states in addition to the Danube and the Rhine. He had another document from the American Delegation which was submitted for consideration at the Berlin Conference on the 26th of July.67 It was also called a document regarding international inland waterways. This document dealt with the Danube, the Rhine, and in addition to these two rivers, the Kiel Canal and the Black Sea Straits. They could see that this document differed from the previous American document in that it named also the Kiel Canal and the Black Sea Straits. Now they had received a new document from the American Delegation with the title, “Agreement to Establish an Emergency Regime for European Inland Waterways”. This document enumerated [Page 320] such rivers as the Rhine, Scheldt, Elbe, Oder, Danube, and the Kiel Canal. As they could see, this third document of the American Delegation differed from the two original documents. Although it did not mention the Black Sea Straits, it mentioned instead the Elbe and the Oder. He was speaking of this because he wanted to ask that they make clear what they were discussing, and what they were called upon to decide. They would clearly see that the view of those who initiated this question had undergone changes on several occasions, and it might well happen that this view would undergo another change tomorrow, and they should therefore agree what is in question. Did they have in mind international inland waterways as the question was raised by the American Delegation at the Berlin Conference? Let them define what they meant by this, and let them enumerate these international inland waterways and what they had in mind as to which straits and canals should be regarded as international inland waterways. This had not been done so far, and what had been done was that the view of the Americans instead had undergone changes on several occasions. If they put this question in order, he thought it would be easier for them to reach an agreement, but so far they were not clear as to what was meant by the Americans and what was meant by international waterways.

Byrnes said that of course his friend was right in saying that at Potsdam reference had been made among other waterways to the Straits. His friend remembered well, however, that there was an agreement there that the matter of the Straits would be taken up separately by each of the Governments with the Turkish Government. And, of course, when that was done they did not wish to include mention of the Straits in this document. They had to stand by that decision, striking the matter of the Straits out, and he knew Molotov would not object to that.

It was true also that there was language trying to define what were the waterways—the language that his good friend had just read, but it was apparent that if they tried to establish a definition, it would follow then that the discussion would cause endless delays. So instead of trying to define the waterways, he thought this time he would name the waterways, then they would not have to bother about a definition—then they would not have to worry whether this or that river came under it because he had named the rivers. It was true that the President’s proposals at Potsdam contemplated the declaration of principle for a permanent solution of this problem, but because Mr. Molotov did not seem to favor that, and in the hope that by making it temporary they would get the work started, he had proposed a temporary arrangement. He asked his friend to accept this proposal. They could take the paper and see if they could not change [Page 321] it that day or the next to suit all, and let them get to work on the rivers. The United States had no selfish interest in it. It only wanted to put its engineers to work and help restore traffic on these rivers.

Molotov said it would still be interesting to know what international inland waterways were. This new document used this term but with restrictions. Only international waterways in Europe were mentioned. His understanding of the new document was that the Suez, the Mississippi, and the Loire would not fall within the category of international inland waterways. His understanding of the present draft was that certain temporary measures were involved.

Byrnes said that was exactly correct.

Molotov said this meant that they passed over the question of permanent international regimes on waterways, and that the question of permanent regimes could wait. He understood that only those countries where war had been waged recently, and where occupational troops were located were involved.

Byrnes replied that the rivers were named in the document.

Molotov said the fact was that different rivers were named in different documents. In view of this he wished to submit a Soviet draft, which he proceeded to read.68

Molotov said the Soviet proposal envisaged a short period, that of the occupation, prior to the conclusion of peace treaties with the satellites and as long as there was a control council in Germany. When the occupation came to an end, a permanent regime should be established and the temporary arrangement abolished. Then there would be no Allied troops in Europe. From the Soviet point of view a permanent regime could not be established without the participation of the riparian states. The temporary regime would be valid only for the period of occupation when final authority was vested in the commanders-in-chief. Any regime other than one under the commanders-in-chief who had control of the waterways, would lead to duality and friction, and it was obvious that any other regime was impracticable for the period of occupation.

Bevin said that as this paper had only just been circulated, and as it was proposed that the regime operate under the commanders-in-chief, which in certain cases would exclude Great Britain altogether, he would like time to study the paper.

This was agreed.

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Molotov said the Soviet Delegation thought in view of the report69 prepared by their representatives, the question should be referred to the Deputies.

Bevin inquired if it were proposed that they deal with both items on Austria at this time.

Molotov said he had referred only to the reply from their representatives in Austria.

Bevin said he understood the proposal to be that this reply was to be referred to the Deputies and report during the present session of the Council.

Byrnes inquired what the Deputies would be directed to do.

Molotov observed that the initiative in this matter had not come from the Soviet Delegation.

Bevin pointed out that there were some things in this report upon which their representatives were agreed and some upon which they were not in agreement. On such a question as the amount of calories that should be fixed for the country, the members of the Allied Council differed. A similar question was that as to whether barley should be used for cattle or exclusively for human consumption. Then there was the question of the natural area from which Austria should get her food. Strong representations had been made in London this week in regard to starvation in Austria. This week or next there would be a very difficult situation to face. He therefore thought they could agree that the Deputies look at the question to see if they could make a recommendation, and see whether developments could be brought about in the area outside Austria to avoid this starvation. In Austria they had reached a temporary agreement which was to run until December 30. The Foreign Ministers would have to take a decision. He was having a paper [readied?] and he hoped the Council agreed that it could go straight to the Deputies.70

Molotov wished to draw attention to paragraph 5 of the accord which had been reached in Vienna, and which he proceeded to read. He said this seemed to be another reason to expedite the extension of the Provisional Austrian Government to all of Austria. As the Commanders-in-Chief had said, this would not settle the question, but it would be helpful, and he thought they should do everything possible to facilitate supplies for Austria.

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Byrnes had no objection to the action proposed by the United Kingdom Delegation to send the question to the Deputies. He had doubts as to what they could do, but in view of the troubled conditions in Austria, he hoped they could get together the next day and collect any facts on which a recommendation could be based. He agreed, but on the understanding that the Deputies report promptly.

Bevin said that in regard to the Austrian Provisional Government, Mr. Molotov knew that he had written him about this matter and had received a reply which he wished to have time to consider.

Bidault pointed out that a number of technical problems were involved such as (1) what was a suitable ration, (2) the obtaining of supplies, and (3) the origin of supplies. He agreed to asking the Deputies for a report. In regard to the Central Austrian Government, all countries had declared that Austria should be free, and therefore they should arrive at a common accord in order that there might be a central Austrian Government. He thought this could easily be done.

Bevin thought that with regard to the question of the central Austrian Government, it would be better if he studied the matter and reported at the next meeting.

The meeting adjourned.

  1. Apparently reference is to the Berlin Conference decision on the establishment of a Council of Foreign Ministers, Conference of Berlin (Potsdam) vol. ii, p. 1500.
  2. For text of the Draft Proposal by the American delegation, dated July 25, 1945, see Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. ii, p. 656. For documentation regarding the consideration of the European inland waterways question at the Berlin Conference, see ibid., vol. i, pp. 321332, and ibid., vol. ii, p. 1612, index entries under European questions, general: Inland waterways.
  3. C.F.M.(45) 1, September 12, “Draft Agreement Establishing Emergency Regime for European Inland Waterways”, p. 132.
  4. For text of this proposal, see Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. ii, p. 654.
  5. For text of this proposal, which bears the date of July 25, 1945, see ibid., p. 656.
  6. C.F.M.(45) 43, September 22, “Provisional Navigation Regime for European Inland Waterways”, p. 324.
  7. The agreed recommendations of the Allied Council for Austria to the Council of Foreign Ministers regarding the question of long-term supply arrangements for Austria, which were reached at a meeting of the Allied Council on September 17, 1945, are quoted in telegram PV 7519, September 18, from the U.S. Military Commissioner for Austria to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, vol. iii, p. 598. These recommendations were presented to the Council of Foreign Ministers by the British delegation in memorandum C.F.M. (45) 42, September 22, p. 323.
  8. The paper presumably under reference is C.F.M.(45) 42, p. 323.