C.F.M. Files: Lot M–88: Box 2063: US Delegation Minutes

United States Delegation Record, Council of Foreign Ministers, Second Session, First Meeting, Paris, April 25, 1946, 5 p.m.1


M. Bidault said the Government of the French Republic was happy to welcome the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the three great nations [Page 95] with whom they were meeting to prepare the peace treaties to end the second World War. He pointed out that the present meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers was one of a series of conferences. During the last eight months they had been working on the preparation of peace treaties with Italy, Eumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland. The first meeting had been held in London when the Council had included a representative of the Chinese Government. In December 1945 a meeting had been held in which three of the governments represented here had participated and to the conclusions of which France and China had adhered. Up until the last few days their Deputies had worked to prepare draft peace treaties. Because their work had not been sufficiently advanced to enable the calling of the conference which had been set for the 1st of May, the United States Government had taken the initiative and the other governments had agreed that it was necessary to convoke a conference of Ministers in order that through frank discussion and by taking matters to a higher level they might find a solution for the deadlock. He was convinced that in an atmosphere of friendship they would be able to reach agreement, in order that the French Government might be in a position to issue the invitation to hold in Paris a general conference which would be the last step but one in the preparation of the peace treaties. He wished to extend a most hearty welcome on the part of the French Government to the members of the Council.

Mr. Byrnes said he wished to express deep appreciation of M. Bidault’s words. France had suffered so severely from wars that he considered it appropriate that they should meet here in the cause of peace. He hoped that their efforts would be successful, and he proposed that M. Bidault preside as their chairman at the opening session.

M. Molotov wished to thank the French Government and M. Bidault personally for the kind invitation to come to this conference in Paris. He also hoped that their efforts would be fruitful and would produce good results.

Mr. Bevin joined in thanking M. Bidault for the welcome he had extended and said he was glad to be back in Paris for the first time since 1939. He supported Mr. Byrnes’ proposal that M. Bidault preside over the first meeting.

M. Molotov said he would like to ask that M. Bidault continue in the chair at this meeting and that they later discuss, in connection with the consideration of the French paper on procedure,2 the question of their procedure in the future.

M. Bidault said he wished now to submit the draft rules of procedure [Page 96] to which M. Molotov referred and pointed out that this paper had already been submitted to the Deputies.

M. Molotov suggested that they accept the proposal on procedure submitted by M. Bidault insofar as it concerned the chairmanship. That procedure was in keeping with the procedure followed at previous sessions. As an exception to the accepted and agreed procedure for the consideration of the peace treaties, he proposed that the Council accept paragraph 4 of the French paper which dealt with the competence of the members of the Council. In other words he proposed that they accept the draft as a whole without amendment.3

Mr. Byrnes said the United States accepted the French proposal without amendment.

Mr. Bevin said he agreed.

M. Bidault said that the French Government was appreciative of this exception. It was aware of the precedent, and all rights would be preserved. The French Government would cooperate in every way. The next item of business was the establishment of the agenda of the conference. The first item was the preparation of the peace treaties with Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland. As the second item, the French Government considered that the French claims in regard to Germany should be placed on the agenda.

Mr. Byrnes said it was the desire of the United States Delegation that in connection with the peace treaties they should also consider a treaty with Austria. The United States Delegation had a paper4 which they would circulate the next day so that it could be considered by his colleagues. The United States Delegation had no other subject to suggest for the agenda.

Mr. Bevin said he understood that M. Bidault had asked for the French claims in regard to Germany to be put on the agenda. He was willing to have an informal talk on the subject of Germany, but he was not willing that it formally go on the agenda. They must not forget that there were many countries other than the four represented at this Conference that had fought Germany. The British Dominions and other Governments were interested in this question. He was willing to have a preliminary talk but not to accept the principle that [Page 97] the Council of Foreign Ministers was the body and the only body to deal with the peace treaty with Germany.

M. Molotov said that the Soviet Delegation agreed with the proposal of M. Bidault in regard to the order of discussion of the peace treaties. With regard to the French proposal that the German question be discussed, the Soviet Government had no objection to this proposal. As to the proposal by Mr. Byrnes that the treaty with Austria be discussed, the Soviet Delegation found itself in some difficulty, because they had not received the draft treaty and were not ready to discuss it. Even if they received it the next day, it would require study, and he therefore thought it was inadvisable to take it up at the present session of the Council.

Mr. Byrnes said the United States Delegation had no objection to the proposal of the French Government and would discuss it either on an informal or formal basis, although they realized that others must be consulted before a final decision was reached. As to the Austrian treaty, he submitted to his Soviet friend that the United States Delegation would submit a draft treaty the next day and that it would be in a condition similar to the other treaties. He imagined that in the next few days they would be considering other treaties with Italy, Rumania, etc., and that the Deputies could consider the proposal on Austria during this time. He suggested that they should consider the Austrian treaty now in order that if the Conference was successful, the Austrian treaty could be submitted to the peace conference and not require a separate conference for that purpose. He asked his Soviet colleague to withhold judgment until he could submit a draft.

Mr. Bevin wished to make his position quite clear. He was willing to exchange views on the subject, although the French claim concerned the British zone alone. Just as in Moscow the British Delegation had declined to consider the German question officially without the French present, it was not prepared now to agree to formal discussion without the other countries concerned. If the question were formally put on the agenda, it would be charged that they had accepted the position that this body and only this body was charged with the discussion of the question of the western frontier of Germany. He was, however, prepared informally to discuss all aspects of the question.

With regard to the other items on the agenda, he suggested that they go through the Italian treaty and finish it.

He also wished to make quite clear that while the British Government had certain powers during the war, the present position was that any decisions which were taken here would have to be ratified by the British Government in Parliament. He assumed that if amendments were put in at the peace conference, they were at liberty [Page 98] to consider those amendments on their merits in accordance with the Moscow decisions before the final drafts were agreed to.

M. Bidault said he must insist that the German question which he had raised be placed on the agenda. He recalled that a memorandum had been distributed by the French Delegation to the meeting in September, and that he had commented on this question.5 It had been decided that the question should be treated through diplomatic channels.6 This had been done, and the exploration of the matter through this channel had gone as far as possible. He believed it was now time for the Council to consider this matter. The French Delegation would distribute a note7 which could contain nothing new, as the French position was already known to the Governments represented on the Council. The four governments represented on the Council were the powers in occupation of Germany and had a primary responsibility in this matter. It was evident that others were interested, particularly the neighboring states of Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg in the first instance, and he also agreed that Poland and Czechoslovakia would have to be consulted. Even if, as Mr. Bevin had stated, no final decision could be reached here, they should study the matter and carry it forward. He recalled that at the Potsdam meeting, at which the Council of Foreign Ministers had been constituted, the terms of reference of the Council stated that one of the questions would be that of the peace with Germany. In considering this question the Council of Foreign Ministers would not in any way be exceeding its competence.

Mr. Bevin said he was willing to study the German question in a noncommittal way but not exclusively on the basis of the French memorandum or on only one aspect of the matter. He was willing to study the German problem in a general way.

Mr. Byrnes repeated that the United States Delegation had no objection to consideration of the German question whether formally or informally, but he thought that this should follow the consideration of the peace treaties on which the Deputies had been working. He pointed out that M. Bidault was correct in his statement in regard to the Potsdam decision. The exact words of the protocol were: “The Council shall be utilized for the preparation of a peace settlement for [Page 99] Germany to be accepted by the government of Germany when a government adequate for the purpose is established.”8 At the time they had agreed to that program, he had believed that long before this they would have been occupied with a treaty with Germany. He had thought at times that they should appoint a special commission to proceed with consideration of this problem while the Council proceeded with other questions. He repeated that he had no objection to proceeding with the French proposal on the understanding that other interested governments must be consulted before final decision was reached.

M. Molotov said he had already agreed to discuss the German question, but he wished to point out that Austria occupied a special position. Austria did not declare war, nor did it wage war as Austria. On the other hand Austria had formed part of Germany. There was no parallel between Austria and the other countries, and the peace treaty with Austria called for special consideration. The Soviet Delegation was not ready to give it consideration at this time, although, of course, the Soviet Delegation would study with full attention the proposal which would be submitted by Mr. Byrnes and would advise when it was ready to discuss it.

In regard to the remarks of Mr. Bevin, he was not quite clear on his point with respect to the peace treaties which they were to discuss. Was he correct in understanding that Mr. Bevin adhered to the procedure regarding decisions by the Council in considering the peace treaties, or was it proposed to change this procedure? If one government were free to make an amendment, then, of course, other governments would be free to make amendments. He wondered if the Conference would arrive at agreed decisions, or at decisions that could be changed. Did they accept the procedure which they had followed during the Moscow Conference of the three Foreign Ministers in December of last year? He pointed out that this conference had taken place after the war was ended. In his opinion that procedure had been a correct one.

Mr. Bevin said that his remarks had been based on the following words of the Moscow decision: “When the preparation of all these drafts has been completed, the Council of Foreign Ministers will convoke a conference for the purpose of considering treaties of peace with Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland”, and the later statement in the Moscow decision to the effect that after the conclusion of the conference and upon consideration of its recommendations, the [Page 100] final text of the treaties would be drawn up.9 He thought that they were, therefore, now in a different position than they had been before. They were now only preparing draft peace treaties, and these peace treaties must be ratified. If anyone put forward an amendment, it must be considered. There was also the fact that Parliament had resumed its powers and insisted that all these agreements be ratified. He was not trying to avoid responsibility, and it would be their duty to defend any positions taken at this Conference, but he wished to point out the situation that might arise between the drawing up of the draft treaties and the conclusion of the final treaties. It was this position that his Government had asked him to keep open.

Mr. Byrnes said he wished to refer to the Austrian situation and said he agreed, of course, that Austria was in a special situation. He pointed out that on November 1, 1943 the governments of the United Kingdom, Soviet Union and the United States had made a declaration in regard to Austria.10 At that time they had agreed that “They regard the annexation imposed upon Austria by Germany on March 15, 1938 as null and void. They consider themselves as in no way bound by any changes effected in Austria since that date. They declare that they wish to see reestablished a free and independent Austria, and thereby to open the way for the Austrian people themselves, as well as those neighboring states which will be faced with similar problems, to find that political and economic security which is the only basis for lasting peace.” At Potsdam, for some reason, they had failed to enumerate Austria with the other countries for which they had decided that treaties should be prepared. He thought the reason might be that, as M. Molotov had said, Austria was in a special category. Nevertheless, they had a duty to regularize their relations with Austria in some way. Since that time an Austrian Government had been established, and they had all recognized it. However, they all had troops in that country, and they had the duty of regularizing their relations. They could not call it a peace treaty, but they must withdraw their troops and regularize their relations and allow the Austrian Government to function as was intended in the declaration they had made. For this reason the United States Government had last February communicated with the governments represented at this Conference with regard to our interest in this subject. He thought they could not lay aside the peace treaty with Austria until they had concluded the peace treaty with Germany, for they could not treat Austria worse than the other governments. Almost a year had passed since [Page 101] the cessation of hostilities, and he was sure that every government represented on the Council would like to regularize relations with Austria which was not like Germany which had no government which they could recognize. He felt that they should regularize the situation of Austria at the same time as the peace treaties with the other countries.

M. Molotov said that the Soviet Government continued to adhere to the principles of the declaration on Austria and thought it was incorrect to postpone the settlement with Austria until that with Germany. The Austrian settlement should be made earlier. He pointed out, however, that work on the other treaties had continued for months and that work on the peace treaty with Austria had not even begun—they did not even have a draft. Therefore, they were not in a position to discuss it at this session as it would require some time for study.

M. Bidault said he thought that after this exchange of views, he could propose the following solution: On their agenda would be 1) Treaty of peace with Italy, 2) Treaty of peace with Rumania, 3) Treaty of peace with Bulgaria, 4) Treaty of peace with Hungary, 5) Treaty of peace with Finland, 6) Examination of the German question. He believed that expressed in this way no delegation could object. He understood that no decision would be reached until other governments had been consulted. In regard to Austria it would be understood that the Austrian question remained in abeyance and that delegations would study the American draft. No decision would be reached today as to whether or not the Austrian question was to be placed on the agenda.

Mr. Bevin said that as long as what he had said was noted, he had no objection to a preliminary examination of the German question. He did not see how they could discuss Germany and leave Austria off the agenda. His Government supported the proposal of the American Delegation. The British Government had raised this Austrian question several months ago and had not received a satisfactory reply.

M. Molotov had no objection to the order proposed by M. Bidault with the exception of the Austrian question on which he had expressed his views. He would like to add that the Allied Control Council in Austria was now engaged in examining the British draft of a proposal to extend the rights of the Austrian Government. When the draft treaty was submitted, they could examine the question of the preparation of a treaty of peace. He did not mean by this that they would postpone the question of a settlement with Austria.

He wished to put a question to Mr. Bevin. Were they to consider their decisions here as made on behalf of their governments, or were they merely to make recommendations to their governments? Up to the present they had followed the procedure of taking decisions. If [Page 102] this procedure were to be changed, he would like to have the question clarified.

Mr. Bevin said it was at the second stage that he would formally commit his government in accordance with the Moscow decision. When these drafts were prepared, they were to convoke a conference, and the decisions of this conference would be submitted to the governments and they would then commit their governments. He added that if at this second stage they committed the Government and if Parliament rejected it, he supposed that Parliament would also reject the Government. He also would like to have this matter cleared up.

M. Molotov said that the December decision was very clear. This decision said that when the preparation of the draft treaties was concluded, a conference would be convoked. To bring that preparation to a conclusion, the governments would have to agree. That was the first stage. The second stage would take place after the conference. The second stage would begin with the preparation of the final text. It clearly followed from the Moscow decision that the governments would decide whether any amendments were necessary. If they were in agreement, then amendments would be included. In both cases the Ministers acted on behalf of their Governments and made decisions and not merely recommendations.

Mr. Bevin thought there was a misunderstanding. Supposing they agreed to put in a clause in any treaty and at the peace conference some government moved an amendment, did the earlier decision prevent them from amending the document?

M. Molotov replied that amendments were not precluded, but amendments were made by agreements between the governments.

M. Bidault said he thought that on this point they were now in full agreement and that any misunderstanding had been cleared up, but that still he would like to fix their agenda. He thought that on the six points he had suggested there was full agreement. The French Government had no objection to the Austrian question, but since some objections had been raised, would not the best procedure be to wait a few days until the American document had been circulated and then they could take a definite decision.

Mr. Byrnes said he did not so understand the situation. He thought the British representative had stated that he had no objection to the German question if the Austrian question were also to be discussed. That was the position of the United States, and he suggested that they adopt the items down to those two questions and leave them until tomorrow. He thought they would be able to reach agreement on these two questions.

M. Molotov said he wished to point out a difference in these questions. The suggestion was that the German question be discussed as [Page 103] such and not that of a German peace treaty, whereas in the case of Austria it was a question of a peace treaty.

Mr. Byrnes said it was his hope that when the United States Delegation submitted their proposal tomorrow, it would be referred to the Deputies and would then follow the usual course. He believed that when M. Molotov read the American draft, he would be more in agreement with it than he was with some of the other questions.

M. Molotov said that before this Conference he had sent a reply to Mr. Byrnes to say that the Soviet Government was not ready to discuss this question and that it had not received a draft. He could assure Mr. Byrnes that the Soviet Delegation would study the American draft most carefully.

Mr. Byrnes said he did not recall receiving the note to which M. Molotov referred.

M. Molotov said it had been delivered in Moscow.

M. Bidault said the American Delegation had proposed that they accept the five questions and leave the other two questions until the next day. He was obliged to state that at this Conference here in Paris he could not agree to an agenda being fixed excluding the German problem which with full right the French Government had raised. He hoped they could agree on the whole agenda, and he therefore suggested that they leave the question of the whole agenda until the next day.

Mr. Byrnes agreed that they leave the decision on the agenda until the next day, but that they agree that they would begin discussion the next day of the Italian treaty, which under the Potsdam decision was to be considered first. He also suggested that they ask the Deputies to meet in the morning to prepare a list of the questions in the Italian treaty which were not decided, and the Ministers could then examine them in the order in which they were prepared by the Deputies.

M. Bidault had no objection to beginning with the Italian treaty, although it was somewhat paradoxical that they take up the first point of an agenda which had not been established. They should, however, now agree that the agenda as a whole should be agreed upon the next day. He thought the Deputies could tomorrow discuss not only the list of Italian treaty points, for such a list was already included in their report, but they could also discuss the matters which the Ministers had discussed today.

Mr. Byrnes suggested that the Deputies try to agree on the order of the items in the treaty; otherwise the Ministers might come to the meeting with different ideas, and they would lose much time.

This was agreed.

Mr. Byrnes asked that the Ministers look at paragraph 5 of the French proposal on procedure. This provided for the appointment of [Page 104] press representatives and that this committee should issue communiqués agreed by the Council. The United States Delegation would appoint a representative and abide by his decision. Approval by the Council would delay action for a day and newspapers would be a day ahead of the communiqué.

M. Bidault pointed out that the text had been adopted but he had no objection to a liberal interpretation of point 5 provided the members of the Council agreed.

M. Molotov thought that the communiqué could be agreed by the representatives of the Ministers, but that if any one of them disagreed, then the question would come before the Ministers. The following press representatives were named: U.S., Mr. McDermott; U.S.S.R., Mr. Stetsenko; U.K., Mr. Ridsdale; France, Mr. Offroy.

Mr. Bevin suggested that communiqués be issued periodically rather than daily as they often had nothing to release.

Mr. Byrnes agreed that they should only release communiqués when they had something to report, but they should not state that communiqués would be issued periodically, or they would have lots of trouble with the press who would imagine that very few would be issued.

M. Bidault proposed that they adjourn until 4:00 p.m. the next day when the U.K. Representative would be in the chair.

It was agreed that the Deputies would meet at 11:00 a.m. the next day.

The meeting adjourned.

[At the conclusion of each meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the United States Delegation prepared a summary of the proceedings, presumably based on the Delegation Record printed in this volume. These summaries were sent by telegram from the Secretary of State to the President and the Acting Secretary of State in Washington. Except in the case of the 8th Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, May 3, 1946, for which no United States Delegation Record has been found, these telegraphic summaries of the Council’s proceedings have not been printed. They are all included in the files of the Department of State under file number 740.00119 Council.

Summaries of many of the meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers at Paris are recorded in Senator Vandenberg’s diary entries as included in The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg, edited by Arthur H. Vandenberg, Jr. (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1952), pages 262–296. The Senator’s summaries of Council meetings include quotations from statements made by members of the Council. These quotations are substantially the same as, although usually not identical with, the United States Delegation Record of the meeting concerned.

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Brief accounts of some of the more decisive meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers are contained in James F. Byrnes, Speaking Frankly (New York and London, Harper & Brothers, 1947), pages 123–137, and in James F. Byrnes, All in One Lifetime (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1958), pages 357–380. These accounts follow closely the United States Delegation Records printed in this volume. With the exception of certain minor editorial corrections and the standardization of the transliteration of Russian names, the lists of participants in these papers are presented here as they appear in the source text.]

  1. The United States Delegation Record of each of the meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers included a list of persons present in the four delegations. Throughout this volume, this list of persons has been omitted from the United States Delegation Record for regular meetings of the Council. A list of persons present at those regular Council meetings is included in the Records of Decisions of those meetings. It must be noted that there were frequent discrepancies between the list of persons in the United States Delegation Record and the list in the Record of Decisions for many Council meetings. Such discrepancies were confined to the listings of various advisers to the four delegations and not to the principal delegation members who took an active part in the discussions.
  2. Reference is to the proposal by the French Representative to the Conference of Deputies, “Draft Rules of Procedure for the Conference of Foreign Ministers”, C.F.M. (D) (46) 77, April 18, 1946, p. 79.
  3. In reporting on this meeting of the Council to the President in telegram 1987, Delsec 435, April 25, from Paris, not printed, the Secretary of State made the following observation on the Soviet acceptance of the French proposal on procedure:

    “Soviet representative stated that he agreed to paragraph four of proposed rules of procedure, under which French were permitted to participate in discussions even about Balkan and Finnish treaties on which they are not allowed to vote, although he considered this an exception to previous practice. This was in fact a striking withdrawal from Soviet position at September Council meeting.” (740.00119 Council/4–2546)

  4. Memorandum by the United States Delegation, “Proposals for a Treaty for the Reestablishment of an Independent and Democratic Austria”, circulated in the Council of Foreign Ministers as C.F.M. (46)3, April 26, 1946, p. 124.
  5. Reference here is to the French Delegation’s memorandum on the control and administration of Germany, C.F.M. (45)17, September 13, 1945, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 177. The Council of Foreign Ministers discussed this French memorandum at its 23rd and 25th meetings in London, September 26 and 28, 1945; for the United States Delegation minutes of these meetings, see ibid., pp. 400 and 429, respectively.
  6. The decision referred to here was reached by the Council of Foreign Ministers at its 25th meeting, September 28, 1945.
  7. The French Delegation’s memorandum on Germany was circulated to the Council of Foreign Ministers as C.F.M. (46), April 25, 1946, p. 109.
  8. The quotation is from Part I, Section (3), subsection (i) of the Protocol of the Proceedings of the Berlin Conference, Berlin, August 1, 1945, Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. ii, p. 1479.
  9. Bevin’s reference here is to the Report of the Moscow Foreign Ministers Conference, December 26, 1945, the text of which is included in telegram 4284, December 27, 1945, from Moscow, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 815.
  10. The Declaration on Austria is included as Annex 6 to the Protocol of the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, November 1, 1943, ibid., 1943, vol. i, p. 761.