United States Delegation Minutes, First Formal Session, Conference of Foreign Ministers, Spiridonovka, Moscow, December 16, 1945, 5:00–7:10 p.m. 84
1st Formal Session
|Present:85||Mr. Molotov, Commissar for Foreign Affairs|
|Mr. Vyshinski, Vice Commissar for Foreign Affairs|
|Mr. Gusev, Soviet Ambassador to London|
|Mr. Malik, Soviet Ambassador to Tokyo|
|Mr. Tsarapkin, Chief, American Section, NKID86|
|Mr. Pavlov, Interpreter|
|Mr. Byrnes, Secretary of State|
|Mr. Harriman, American Ambassador to Moscow|
|Mr. Cohen, Counselor of Department of State|
|Dr. Conant, President of Harvard University|
|Mr. Matthews, Director, Office of European Affairs|
|Mr. Vincent, Director, Office of Far Eastern Affairs|
|Mr. Bohlen, Assistant to the Secretary|
|Mr. Bevin, Minister for Foreign Affairs|
|Sir A. Cadogan, Under Secretary of State|
|Sir A. Clark Kerr, British Ambassador to Moscow|
|Sir B. Campbell, Ambassador|
|Mr. Sterndale Bennett, Counselor, Far Eastern Department|
|Mr. McAfee, Interpreter|
1. The Agenda, etc.
Mr. Molotov opened the meeting on his own behalf and that of the Soviet Government, welcoming the Delegations and his Colleagues: Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Bevin. He expressed the hope that the conference would be a success.
Mr. Byrnes expressed confidence that great good would come of the conference and made the suggestion that Mr. Molotov should preside at its sessions.
Mr. Bevin expressed the hope that the conference would prove a great success not only for the countries immediately concerned, but also for the whole world and stated his support of Mr. Byrne’s proposal that Mr. Molotov should preside.
Mr. Molotov thanked the other two delegates for their proposal that he preside and raised the preliminary question of the procedure of convening sessions.
It was agreed that there should be daily meetings at 4:00 p.m. with provision for exceptions to this rule if desirable.
Mr. Molotov stated that Mr. Malik would be the secretary of the Soviet Delegation.
Mr. Bevin stated that Mr. Dickson [Dixon?] would be the secretary of the British Delegation.
Mr. Byrnes stated that Mr. Bohlen would be the secretary of the American Delegation.
Mr. Molotov then raised the question of the Conference agenda, pointing out that Mr. Byrnes, as the sponsor of the conference, had proposed an agenda of eight items.87 Mr. Molotov stated that in the [Page 612]opinion of the Soviet Delegation the first item on the agenda proposed by Mr. Byrnes should be placed at the end of the agenda and that two additional items should be inserted after item five.88
Mr. Molotov stated that the British Government had contributed its observations with regard to the proposed agenda and that Mr. Bevin had objected to discussing the question of withdrawing British troops from Greece. He added that Mr. Bevin had also made observations concerning economic collaboration in Europe without however proposing the inclusion of this topic in the agenda. Mr. Molotov stated further that Mr. Byrnes had objected to the proposal of the Soviet Government to discuss the withdrawal of American troops from China.
Mr. Byrnes stated that there must be a misunderstanding in this matter as he had no objection to discussing the question of American troops in China, but on the contrary, would be very glad to discuss it.
Mr. Molotov maintained that Mr. Harriman’s letter89 in this connection had replaced the question of withdrawing American troops from China by the question of withdrawing Allied troops from all independent states except Germany and Japan.
Mr. Byrnes at this point read aloud relevant excerpts of Mr. Harriman’s letter (see enclosure no. 190). Mr. Byrnes stated further that although he did not wish to arrive at a final understanding with regard to United States forces in China in the absence of a representative of the Chinese Government, he would be glad to discuss this question informally and also to discuss the withdrawal of Allied troops from all independent countries. With regard to Mr. Molotov’s suggestion that the first item on the agenda submitted by Mr. Byrnes should be placed at the end of the agenda, Mr. Byrnes stated that he had no objection to this.
Mr. Molotov stated that there appeared to be certain differences of opinion with regard to the agenda. He inquired whether there was any objection to the Soviet proposal that the first item proposed by Mr. Byrnes should be discussed last.
Mr. Bevin inquired whether this item should necessarily be discussed last and suggested that it might be discussed further on in the course of the conference.
Mr. Molotov pointed out that Mr. Byrnes had agreed to the Soviet proposal; however, if it were found necessary in the course of the discussions to change this decision, it would be agreeable to him.[Page 613]
Mr. Bevin stated that he had not known that Mr. Byrnes was in agreement with the Soviet proposal and that in view of Mr. Byrnes’ agreement, he would present no objections.
Mr. Byrnes remarked that in his opinion there should be no hard and fast agenda, but that the delegates should feel free to bring up any questions which they desired to discuss and that the agenda should be kept open at all times.
Mr. Molotov indicated his agreement, but suggested that the first item be considered as being placed at the end of the agenda.
There was no objection to this proposal.
Mr. Molotov then stated that the Soviet Government proposed to add to the agenda the following two questions:
- The withdrawal of American troops from China, and
- The withdrawal of British troops from Greece.
He stated further that the Soviet Delegation believed it necessary to receive information concerning developments in Indonesia and informally to exchange views on this topic. He stated that the Soviet Delegation, therefore, proposed to add the Indonesian situation to the agenda.91
With regard to item six of Mr. Byrnes’ proposed agenda, concerning the transfer of control over Manchuria to the Chinese National Government, Mr. Molotov stated that this question might be removed from the agenda since the Soviet Government had a special agreement with the Chinese Government concerning Manchuria92 and since there were no differences of opinion between the Soviet and Chinese Governments on this score. He, therefore, saw no reason why the Manchurian question should require special consideration.
Mr. Bevin stated that he could not agree to the inclusion of the British withdrawal from Greece on the agenda. He stated that he would be prepared to talk this matter over at a later date when it was determined how the conference was progressing in its discussions on the peace treaties. He took the point of view that Greek discussions should be handled in a preliminary way, rather than as a formal item on the agenda.[Page 614]
Mr. Byrnes stated that although the presence of United States troops in North China was covered by the surrender agreement, he had no objections to discussing this subject and would be glad to provide his colleagues with full information concerning it. He stated that his colleagues were entitled to be thoroughly informed concerning American actions in China and that he desired them to have this information. This, he said, applied to his desire to discuss the withdrawal of Allied troops from all states.
Mr. Bevin stated that with regard to Indonesia he did not quite know what his position was inasmuch as the British in Indonesia were acting under the orders of those who signed the surrender terms; the British troops were stationed in Indonesia in order to carry out the duties allocated to them there. He inquired as to whom he was to report to—the Combined Chiefs of Staff or the present body. He continued that he did not wish to be judged by those who were not in a position to judge him. He stated that the Soviet Government desired to ascertain what the British were doing in Indonesia and explained that they were merely the agents of the Supreme Commander. He explained that he did not want to be “put on the carpet” in the present situation.
Mr. Byrnes stated that he hoped Mr. Bevin would bear in mind the distinction between formal and informal discussions and pointed out that this question might be discussed informally without being placed on the agenda. He added that he was in favor of discussing any and all matters informally and that it would lead to better understanding among all three governments for any question in the minds of any one of the three to be discussed. He, for his part, would be glad to advise his colleagues on any subject they wished to raise.
Mr. Bevin stated that if the Indonesian question were discussed without agreement being obtained, then this would cause misunderstanding. He stated that he would be glad to talk with Mr. Molotov and Mr. Byrnes on the subject of Indonesia but repeated that the British were not free agents and were obligated to fulfil the instructions of the East Asia Command. He added that there were certain questions in his mind also which he would like to discuss informally for purposes of clarification without placing them on the agenda.
Mr. Byrnes stated that if Mr. Molotov’s suggestion with regard to Indonesia was based upon the inclusion by Mr. Byrnes of Manchuria on the agenda, he wished to point out that he had included Manchuria not in order to provoke a discussion of the conduct of the Soviet Command but purely to obtain information concerning the situation in Manchuria. He added that if Mr. Molotov so desired, he would be willing to withdraw the question of Manchuria from the agenda. He stated that this was particularly the case in view of [Page 615]Mr. Molotov’s statement that the USSR was working harmoniously with the Chinese Government in regard to Manchuria. He stated that he desired to advise his colleagues of the situation in North China and had also desired to inquire about the situation in Manchuria, in which all sides were interested, but that the question of Manchuria could be withdrawn if Mr. Molotov so wished.
Mr. Molotov stated that with regard to Indonesia he was not referring to the execution of the armistice terms with Japan, which had been signed by the representatives of all three powers, but that the Indonesian question merited examination in essence. He stated that at the end of November the New York radio had reported that the Indonesians had lost 30,000 to 40,000 men and that actual warfare was taking place there. This had attracted the attention of the whole world. The Soviet Government would like to obtain informally information about these events and an explanation of them. He stated that the three Ministers could discuss informally ways and means of ending the bloodshed and stopping the intervention of foreign troops, particularly British, and could discuss the settlement of this question in a peaceful and democratic way. He inquired why this question could not be discussed informally in view of the proposals to discuss the questions of China and Iran. He then repeated that such discussion might facilitate a peaceful and democratic settlement of the Indonesian question.
With regard to the question of the transfer of the control of Manchuria to the Chinese National Government, Mr. Molotov repeated that the Soviet Government had an agreement with the Chinese National Government concerning Manchuria. He stated further that the Soviet Command had worked out a plan of evacuation under the terms of this agreement in accordance with which the Soviet evacuation of Manchuria would have been completed by December 3. The Soviet Command had proceeded with the evacuation and had already evacuated southern Manchuria when the Chinese Government in the middle of November had requested that the evacuation be suspended for a period of one month, to which the Soviet Government had agreed. The Chinese Government had recently approached the Soviet Government again with the request that the evacuation be suspended until February 1st and this further proposal was now under consideration.93 Mr. Molotov concluded that the Soviet Government had neither misunderstandings nor differences of opinion with the Chinese Government [Page 616]on this question and accordingly he saw no reason for its inclusion in the agenda. With regard to the withdrawal of United States troops from North China, Mr. Molotov inquired whether he was correct in assuming that Mr. Byrnes did not object to the inclusion of this topic on the agenda and to an informal exchange of views upon it.
Mr. Byrnes stated that he was in agreement with this.
Mr. Molotov stated that with regard to Greece, he believed that the Ministers were fully entitled to have an exchange of views. He stated that if the withdrawal of our troops from Iran were to be discussed, he saw no reason why the withdrawal from Greece and China should not also be discussed.
With regard to Iran, Mr. Molotov stated that the presence of Soviet troops is covered by the Anglo-Soviet Treaty95 and that this question had been discussed at Berlin and had come up for examination again at London. An exchange of views had taken place in London. There had also been an exchange of letters between Mr. Molotov and Mr. Bevin on this question. Mr. Molotov stated further that if Mr. Bevin opposed the discussion of the evacuation of troops from Indonesia, then he would object to including the question of evacuating troops from Iran on the agenda. He would propose therefore that these two questions be considered apart from the agenda.
Mr. Bevin stated that the question of evacuating troops from Iran had not been proposed by him since he had exchanged letters with Mr. Molotov on this question and they had agreed that all troops would be evacuated from Iran by a certain time. He added that before reaching a final conclusion on this issue, he would like to have an unofficial exchange of views with his colleagues. He did not wish to bargain the withdrawal of troops from one area against the withdrawal from another, but to discuss each question on its own merits.
Mr. Molotov expressed his agreement with this.
Mr. Byrnes suggested that the questions of evacuating troops from Greece, Iran and Indonesia be eliminated from the agenda but be discussed informally.
Mr. Molotov remarked that the agenda would be somewhat shorter in view of this and inquired whether agreement had been reached that the question of Manchuria should also be deleted from the agenda.[Page 617]
Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Bevin agreed that Manchuria should also be deleted.
Mr. Byrnes referred to topic No. 4 on his proposed agenda, concerning an independent government for Korea. He wished to point out that he now proposed a new title for this subject reading; “The creation of a unified administration for Korea looking toward the eventual establishment of an independent Korean Government”.
Mr. Molotov and Mr. Bevin stated that they had no objections to this revised wording.
Mr. Molotov summed up the items which had been agreed upon as constituting the agenda:
- The reconvening of the Council of Foreign Ministers and the resumption of the work of their deputies.
- The terms of reference of the Allied Council and FEC.96
- The creation of a unified administration for Korea looking toward the establishment of an independent Korean Government.
- The disarming of Japanese armed forces in North China and their evacuation to Japan.
- Conditions permitting the recognition of the present governments of Roumania and Bulgaria.
- Proposals concerning a United Nations Commission for consideration of the control of atomic energy.
Mr. Molotov stated that he would proceed to the first item.
2. Preliminary Discussions
Mr. Byrnes stated that he was circulating a memorandum entitled “Preparations for Peace Treaties” (enclosure No. 2). Mr. Byrnes called attention to the fact that this document was similar to the document which the United States Government had presented at London except for one point.97 The first paragraph was that which had been presented by Mr. Molotov.98 The second paragraph was that which had been presented by Mr. Byrnes. The only change was in the second sentence of the last paragraph.
Mr. Molotov stated that the Soviet Delegation wished to have time to review this question and proposed that Mr. Byrnes’ recommendations be considered at the following meeting. He therefore suggested that the conference proceed to point No. 2 on the agenda.
Mr. Byrnes stated that he had no objection to this and called attention again to the fact that only one change had been made in the original document on this subject. He added that, as he remembered, Mr. Molotov had stated that he had no objection in principle to this [Page 618]proposal. He expressed the hope that Mr. Molotov would have no objection at this time.
Mr. Byrnes stated that with regard to item No. 2 on the agenda he was circulating papers (enclosure No. 399). He stated that the other delegates would wish to have the opportunity to study these papers, and Mr. Molotov and Mr. Bevin assented.
Mr. Byrnes then proceeded to item No. 3, the question of Korea, referring to Mr. Harriman’s letter of November 8 to Mr. Molotov (enclosure No. 4).
Mr. Molotov stated that Mr. Harriman’s letter of November 8 did not embrace the question which had been placed upon the agenda, viz. the Korean situation as a whole.
Mr. Bevin inquired whether there had been an answer to Mr. Harriman’s letter of November 8.
Mr. Molotov replied that there had not been an answer but that the questions raised in Mr. Harriman’s letter were being studied. He later corrected himself and stated that a reply had been made.1
Mr. Byrnes stated that Mr. Harriman’s letter had represented the first step toward accomplishment of the objectives formulated in item No. 3 of the agenda.
Mr. Molotov replied that the letter contained no reference to or mention of a Korean government.
Mr. Byrnes stated that he had referred to Mr. Harriman’s letter in connection with the discussion of Korea in as much as this letter contained the ideas of the United States Government as to what would be the first step toward establishing an independent Korean government. It had been his understanding that all three parties had agreed that there should be a trusteeship for Korea. This could not be accomplished immediately, but the proposals made in Mr. Harriman’s letter would be a most desirable step toward that end and Mr. Byrnes therefore suggested that these proposals be considered in order to relieve the situation in Korea, following which a formula of trusteeship could be discussed. Mr. Byrnes wished that there should be a full exchange of views on this subject but this should be prefaced by discussion of immediate steps to be taken. Then the formula of trusteeship could be discussed. Mr. Byrnes inquired as to the views of Mr. Bevin and Mr. Molotov concerning the specific proposals set forth in this letter with regard to the resumption of commodity exchange, et cetera.[Page 619]
Mr. Molotov repeated his previous statement that Mr. Harriman’s letter had not touched upon the question of a Korean government or the establishment of a trusteeship. He stated that the question placed by Mr. Byrnes on the agenda, however, was the general one of a Korean government and an over-all administration for Korea. Mr. Harriman’s letter raised questions of the exchange of commodities, the resumption of railway operations, shipping, financial policy, displaced persons, et cetera. Mr. Molotov had only just been apprised of the fact that Mr. Byrnes linked these questions with the general question of a Korean government but he did not understand how these questions were related and would like to have this explained.
Mr. Byrnes stated that the United States Government proposed that a unified administration for Korea be established. Mr. Harriman’s letter had set forth certain proposals which should be adopted in order to achieve this end. If a unified administration were to be established, it would be necessary to have the Soviet and American Commanders in Korea confer and reach agreement concerning the points raised in Mr. Harriman’s letter and other measures looking to the replacement of the present two administrations by a unified administration. The establishment of a unified administration would facilitate the next stage which would be the establishment of a trusteeship as agreed. The agreement had provided for a four-power trusteeship, but there was no reason not to achieve a unified administration at the present time.
Mr. Molotov stated that Mr. Harriman’s letter raised a number of specific questions and that the Soviet Delegation had not been apprised in advance that the Korean question would be raised from this point of view. The specific questions touched upon in Mr. Harriman’s letter were being studied. The Soviet Delegation must obtain material from the appropriate authorities and also from the military authorities in Korea, but Mr. Molotov could state at the present time that due attention had been devoted to these questions in recent weeks.
Mr. Molotov went on to say that since Mr. Harriman’s letter had not referred to a unified administration in Korea or mentioned a Korean government, Mr. Byrnes might wish to explain what the United States Government had in mind on this question.
Mr. Byrnes replied that the United States Government had seen no way to unify the administration of Korea other than by authorizing the American and Soviet Commanders in Korea to confer on steps to be taken toward this end. Mr. Byrnes suggested that there might be a misunderstanding over the phrase “unified administration” which in the American view merely summed up the various specific proposals regarding the nationalization [rationalization] of communications, et cetera. If necessary, the words “unified administration” might be deleted [Page 620]and replaced by the concrete words employed in Mr. Harriman’s letter. Mr. Byrnes moved, therefore, to strike out of the agenda the term “unification.”
Mr. Molotov stated that Mr. Byrnes was raising an entirely different question from that of the government, trusteeship, or unified administration of Korea. The concrete proposals presented by Mr. Byrnes would require the presence of specialists and advisers on railways, finance, commercial matters, et cetera, but time would not permit this.
Mr. Byrnes agreed that there would not be time for this, but stated that he had desired to discuss whether the Commanders in Korea could be authorized to take up these matters with the appropriate specialists. He agreed that specialists could not be invited to the conference.
Mr. Molotov stated that he believed an examination of the question of a unified administration, trusteeship and an independent government of Korea, as discussed at Yalta by President Roosevelt and Generalissimo Stalin,2 would facilitate the settlement of these practical questions raised in Mr. Harriman’s letter. He said that it might be necessary to obtain the opinion of the civilian and military authorities on the questions raised by Mr. Harriman which were of course important. At the moment Mr. Molotov did not have any information regarding the latter questions, although it was quite possible that they were under consideration at the present time. But it would not be desirable to confine discussion of the Korean question to a consideration of these practical questions. Mr. Byrnes at the outset had raised the question of establishing an independent government in Korea. Today he had added to this the question of creating a unified administration and trusteeship. There was a connection between these general and specific questions and a discussion of the former would facilitate examination of the latter.
Mr. Bevin stated that he would like to obtain a copy of the original agreement on a trusteeship for Korea.
Mr. Molotov stated that he wished to make it clear that no agreement existed. There had been an exchange of views between the United States and Soviet representatives at the time of the Yalta conference on the necessity of establishing a trusteeship for Korea.
Mr. Byrnes stated that this was in accordance with his understanding. In citing Mr. Harriman’s letter he had not desired to confine discussion to the consideration of the questions raised in this letter. He wished to discuss the general subject. He hoped that a time would come when agreement could be reached upon the establishment of an [Page 621]independent government. The understanding reached at Yalta looked toward the establishment of a trusteeship, which in turn provided for the formation of an independent government. Mr. Byrnes added that the American Delegation would prepare a paper on this general subject for distribution at the following meeting.
Mr. Bevin agreed that this would be the most desirable procedure. He stated that he well understood the desire of Mr. Byrnes to coordinate economic functions in Korea as that was very necessary to bring about unification of that country.
Mr. Molotov stated that the conference would defer discussion of Korea pending presentation of Mr. Byrnes’ document.
Mr. Byrnes said that he had a statement which had been made by the President during the last day or so regarding the presence of American troops in North China (enclosure No. 53). He proposed that the other delegates take this statement for consideration and that it be discussed at tomorrow’s session.
Mr. Molotov expressed gratification to Mr. Byrnes for the document and terminated the session at 7:10 p.m.
It was agreed among the delegates that no statement would be made to the press following the present meeting, but that at each succeeding meeting a decision would be made as to whether statements should be issued to the press.[Page 628]
- The Secretary reported to Washington on this meeting in telegram 4190, Delsec 9, December 17, from Moscow, not printed.↩
- The British delegation minutes of this meeting (not printed) list the following additional participants: For the United States—Edward Page, Secretary of Embassy in the Soviet Union; for the United Kingdom—Pierson J. Dixon of the British Foreign Office.↩
- Narodnyi Kommissariat Inostrannykh Del (People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs).↩
- The original agenda proposed by the Secretary of State was set forth in Harriman’s letter of December 7 to Molotov, p. 599.↩
- Molotov’s proposed modifications of the Secretary’s suggested agenda were set forth in his letter of December 7 to Harriman, p. 600.↩
- Reference is to Harriman’s letter of December 9 to Molotov, p. 606, setting forth the Secretary’s reactions to Molotov’s letter of December 7.↩
- See previous footnote.↩
- For documentation regarding the
interest of the United States in the political developments in the
Netherlands East Indies following the defeat of Japan, see
v, pp. 1 ff.↩
- Apparently reference is to the agreement of August 14, 1945, between the Soviet Union and China regarding relations between the Soviet Commander in Chief and the Chinese administration following the entry of Soviet forces into the territory of the “Three Eastern Provinces” of China in connection with military operations against Japan; for text, see United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 10, p. 331; Department of State Bulletin, February 10, 1946, p. 206; or Department of State, Far Eastern Series No. 30: United States Relations with China (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1949), p. 592.↩
- In his telegram 4190, Delsec. 9, December 17, from Moscow, reporting on the First Formal Session of the Conference, the Secretary added the following remark regarding Soviet-Chinese exchanges on the matter of evacuation of Manchuria: “Chinese Ambassador here says there was no new commitment by China to secure delay of withdrawal of Soviet troops.” (740.00119–Council/12–1745)↩
reference here is to the Treaty of Alliance between the Soviet Union and
the United Kingdom on the one hand and Iran on the other, signed at
Tehran, January 29, 1942; for text, see British and
Foreign State Papers, vol. cxliv, p.
1017, or Department of State Bulletin, March 21,
1942, p. 249. For documentation on the treaty, see
Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iv, pp. 263 ff.↩
- Far Eastern Commission.↩
- See Proposal by the United States Delegation to the Council of Foreign Ministers, C.F.M. (45) 84, September 30, p. 475.↩
- See Resolution Proposed by the Soviet Delegation to the Council of Foreign Ministers, C.F.M. (45) 83, September 30, p. 474.↩
- Enclosure No. 3 consists of three memoranda by the United States delegation, labeled enclosures 3a, 3b, and 3c.↩
- Telegram 3940, November 23, from
Moscow, printed in
vi, reported receipt of a letter on November 21 from Deputy Foreign Commissar Vyshinsky stating that the American proposals had been transmitted to the competent Soviet authorities.↩
- Regarding the discussion
at Yalta between President Roosevelt and Marshal Stalin on the subject
of trusteeships, see the Bohlen Minutes of the Roosevelt-Stalin Meeting,
February 8, 1945, 3:30 p.m.,
Conferences at Malta and Yalta, p. 770.↩
- For the statement by President Truman regarding United States policy toward China, released to the press by the White House on December 16, 1945, see Department of State Bulletin, December 16, 1945, p. 945, or Public Papers of the Presidents: Harry S. Truman, 1945, p. 543. The memorandum circulated to the Conference by the Secretary of State, included as enclosure 5, p. 628, was based upon the President’s statement.↩
- Reference here is to the Proposal by the United States Delegation to the Council of Foreign Ministers, C.F.M. (45) 84, September 30, p. 475, and Resolution Proposed by the Soviet Delegation to the Council of Foreign Ministers, C.F.M. (45) 83, September 30, p. 474.↩
- For the
instructions upon which this letter was based, see telegram 2278,
November 3, 6 p.m., to Moscow, printed in
- Reference is to the statement by President Truman regarding United States policy toward China, released to the press by the White House on December 16, 1945; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, December 16, 1945, p. 945, or Public Papers of the Presidents: Harry S. Truman, 1945, p. 543.↩