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

United States Delegation Record, Council of Foreign Ministers, Second Session, Seventh Meeting, Paris, May 2, 1946, noon1


Report of the Deputies

M. Molotov called upon M. Vyshinsky, Chairman of the Deputies meeting of that morning, to make a report.

M. Vyshinsky reported that the Deputies had considered the question of the agenda for the meeting of the Council. They had decided upon the following topics, which they recommended be considered in the order listed: (1) the disposition of the Pelagosa Islands; (2) war criminals; (3) demilitarization of a zone along the Franco-Italian frontier; (4) demilitarization of a zone along the Yugoslav-Italian frontier, a question directly connected with the previous one; (5) the [Page 207] French proposal for additional restrictions on heavy weapons (Article 45 of the British Draft Heads2).

M. Vyshinsky stated that the Deputies had not reached agreement on these questions and referred them for decision to the Foreign Ministers. On item no. 5 the Soviet, British and American Deputies had opposed the French proposal for further limitations on the ground that the general restrictions on the Italian Army were all that was necessary. At the request of the French Deputy the matter was submitted to the Foreign Ministers.

M. Vyshinsky said that the Deputies had also discussed the question of establishing a procedure for the hearings of the Yugoslav and Italian representatives before the Council of Foreign Ministers. There had been an exchange of views, and the Deputies had decided to leave the question to the decision of the Foreign Ministers themselves.

M. Molotov asked whether there were any observations on M. Vyshinsky’s report.

Mr. Bevin said that he was advised that the British Deputy had objected to connecting the question of the demilitarization of a zone along the Yugoslav-Italian frontier with that of a zone along the Franco-Italian frontier. He had not wanted the former question to be considered until it was determined where the Yugoslav-Italian frontier would be located. Mr. Bevin had no objection to this subject going on the agenda but was making a reservation as to how it should be done.

M. Molotov accepted this reservation and the report of the Deputies was approved.

Hearing of Italian Views on Yugoslav-Italian Frontier

M. Molotov announced that all delegations were now in possession of a letter from the Italian Chargé d’Affaires in Paris concerning the time of arrival of Signor De Gasperi3 in Paris to present the Italian Government’s views on the report of the Commission of Experts on the Italian-Yugoslav frontier. The letter requested that the Council defer the hearing until the afternoon of May 3rd.4

Mr. Bevin said that he had not seen that letter yet.

M. Molotov then read the letter (CFM (46)31).5

[Page 208]

M. Molotov asked whether his colleagues desired to accept the proposal made by the Italian Government or to consider it at the next meeting.

Mr. Byrnes suggested that they agree to set aside Friday afternoon to hear both parties, Yugoslav and Italian.6

Mr. Bevin agreed.

M. Molotov said that he agreed and that he would send a reply on those lines to the Italian Chargé d’Affaires in Paris.

Pelagosa Islands

M. Molotov suggested that the Council proceed to discuss the question of the Pelagosa Islands.

M. Bidault pointed out that this was not a very important problem and that the Foreign Ministers, with great responsibilities and larger problems before them, should not spend much time on it. He noted that the islands in question were uninhabited and were used primarily by fishermen. These fishermen came from the Dalmatian coast. Before 1914 the islands had belonged to Austria and had always been connected with Dalmatia. As the loss of these islands would mean no loss of population to Italy, M. Bidault thought that the Council could agree that they might be ceded to Yugoslavia with the provision that they should not be fortified.

Mr. Bevin asked whether M. Bidault proposed that the fishing rights of both nations should be preserved.

M. Bidault replied that naturally they would be preserved.

Mr. Bevin thought that a provision to that effect should be put into the treaty so that all disputes could be avoided. If the islands were demilitarized and fishing rights were maintained for both nations, he was willing to agree with M. Bidault’s proposal.

Mr. Byrnes said that the United States agreed with that disposition of the islands.

M. Molotov said the Soviet Delegation also agreed. He then mentioned that there was another proposal submitted by the Yugoslav Government for the demilitarization of Pianosa. He asked whether there was any objection to that proposal.

M. Bidault said that he would agree but that the proposal should read that the islands would not be militarized since they had never been militarized.

M. Molotov then said that the Council seemed to be in agreement that the Pelagosa Islands should be turned over to Yugoslavia with [Page 209] the provision that they should not be militarized and that fishing rights would be maintained for both countries, and that Pianosa, which would remain with Italy, should not be militarized. (All Delegations agreed.)

War Criminals

M. Molotov said that in connection with the subject of war criminals a proposal had been made to set up a committee to deal with the question. He asked whether any delegation insisted on the necessity of having such a committee?

Mr. Bevin said that he frankly did not know how the problem could be dealt with unless there was such a committee. If a claim should be made on Italy to hand over an individual war criminal, how would it be decided? There had already been difficulties with this sort of question. It was necessary to know what individuals had to be handed over. There must be a certain screening process.

M. Molotov said that he did not know what was the objective in the mind of those who had made the proposal to set up a committee. In his view there might be either one of two objectives: (1) to intensify the measures against war criminals on the ground that Italy was not adopting adequate measures against them, or (2) that Italy had been too vigorous in its prosecution of war criminals and that it was necessary to restrain her. M. Molotov would like to know which of those two objectives was being pursued. Was it intended to intensify the campaign against war criminals or to restrain Italy in that respect?

Mr. Bevin said he was not seeking to pursue either objective. The matter was being dealt with now by the Allied Commission. When the treaty should be concluded, the Allied Commission would disappear and Allied troops would be withdrawn. Thus the present machinery would disappear. He was concerned only with the question of who would take over these functions.

M. Molotov said that in his understanding no political tasks would be assigned to the proposed commission. Apparently it was not intended as a means of intensifying the prosecution of war criminals or of taking restraining measures. Thus only one task remained and that was of a technical nature. That being the case the question arose whether it would not be possible to let Italy and the countries concerned deal directly with questions involving war criminals. He feared that, after the conclusion of the peace treaty, several control bodies might be created in Italy. In his view that would not help to promote good relations with Italy. All the Allied powers were interested in having their relations with Italy become more normal. To increase the number of control bodies supervising the activity of the Italian Government would accordingly be inadvisable.

Mr. Bevin said that he quite agreed with M. Molotov’s thesis about placing relations with Italy on a basis which would be as normal as [Page 210] possible. The only question was which was the best way to do it. There was no difference of opinion as to the objective.

M. Molotov said that this objective would be defined by the decisions taken regarding the provisions included in the peace treaty. There should be an obligation on Italy to assist the Allied and Associated Powers in the apprehension and trial of war criminals. The best method to be adopted in carrying out this obligation would be to settle questions which might arise through normal channels between the states concerned and Italy. Since apparently no political objectives were present, it was more appropriate to adopt the course which he had suggested. It would promote the establishment of normal relations with Italy and would further the development of such relations in the future.

Mr. Byrnes said that, since there was disagreement on this subject, he wondered if the Foreign Ministers could agree to eliminate the suggested paragraphs from the treaty. The United States would, of course, propose that there be a time limit within which demands could be made on Italy to surrender war criminals under Italian jurisdiction. No one of the Four Powers would want to leave that matter open so that five years from now some government might be able to demand that Italy surrender a particular individual, who might even be a member of the Italian Government, on the ground that he was objectionable in the eyes of the government making the demand. Since this should be considered as a temporary obligation on Italy, as a means of setting up a procedure for a temporary period, it might be possible to set forth in a separate protocol just what procedure should be followed for a period in the neighborhood of one year after the entry into force of the treaty. That was a matter which could be discussed later, and it would not delay the consideration of the treaty, which should be a document fixing the framework of permanent relations between Italy and the Allied Governments.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that there was an Allied Control Council in Germany, where, despite certain disagreements, on the whole the procedure with respect to war criminals had worked satisfactorily. In Italy when the Allied Commission went out of existence, there would be a need for some machinery for continuing to carry out the procedures in the same way that they have been carried out up to the present.

M. Molotov said that in his view it was highly undesirable to create the impression that action against war criminals would be relaxed after any fixed period. He felt that it was undesirable to let the war criminals in Italy feel that some sort of amnesty was being suggested. He felt that the countries most interested saw no need for a special committee. He asked whether any of the Allied countries had made a request for assistance in this matter? He had in mind Yugoslavia, [Page 211] Greece, Albania and Poland. Those were perhaps the only countries which had the right to make such requests. Had they asked for assistance by a special committee? M. Molotov proposed that the Council limit itself to the adoption of a clause obliging Italy to cooperate in the apprehension and trial of war criminals. The remaining questions might be considered later if any proposals were submitted. In suggesting this, he based himself on the assumption that Italy would be able to take steps against Italian war criminals.

Mr. Byrnes said that he had no additional proposal. If it was impossible to agree now, then the question would have to be deferred. He felt his colleagues should consider whether it might be possible to have machinery for a short period after the withdrawal of the Allied Commission. He felt that that would help relations between Italy and the Allies. As a concrete case, he pointed out that an Allied state might make a demand on Italy for a certain individual as a war criminal. Italy might refuse to agree, saying that he was not a war criminal. If there were machinery, as there is today in Italy as well as in Germany and Japan, the Allied body could pass on the question whether a prima facie case against the individual in question had been made out. If it decided in the affirmative, Italy could not refuse to comply with the request.

M. Molotov asked whether, during the last year, there had been any case in which the Allied authorities in Italy had been compelled to interfere with the Italian Government to oblige Italy to extradite a war criminal.

Mr. Byrnes said that the only information he had was that requests for war criminals had been posed to the Allied Commission, not to the Italian Government. The Allied Commission had acted on requests received, and there had been no difficulty. So long as this procedure had been working smoothly, it would appear to be wise to continue it for a year. There should be a definite time limit however. There should be some time limit set for making requests for war criminals. It would be in the interest of good relations with Italy to encourage interested governments to make their demands for war criminals immediately. It would be several months before the treaty went into effect, and the period for the making of demands could be set at one year from that date.

M. Molotov said that no single case had been cited in which the Allied Commission had had to interfere with the Italian Government on such a matter.

Mr. Byrnes said that apparently there was a misunderstanding. It was not a question of the Allied Commission interfering. The Allied Commission was the only body which had anything to do with the matter. The Allied Commission had in fact turned over a number of war criminals to Yugoslavia.

[Page 212]

M. Molotov said that no facts had been brought forward regarding the activity of the Allied Commission in this question. If the course proposed had been motivated by the intention of intensifying the prosecution of war criminals, the Soviet Delegation would have no objection. But this aim had not been suggested.

Mr. Byrnes said that what he was suggesting was that the system now in operation be continued for a period after the coming into force of the treaty. The question was whether the authority should be taken from a commission, on which several governments were represented, and turned over to the Italians. All the American proposal meant was that, when the treaty went into effect and the Allied Commission was abolished, for a reasonable period there should be provided a means of handling this matter in a satisfactory way. Machinery which would work in the same manner as that which was at present in operation should be established.

M. Molotov stated the view that he and his colleagues apparently could not arrive at a common view on this subject and that they would have to defer it until later.


M. Bidault wished to intervene at this point in the discussion to say that it seemed to him that there were too many points on which no agreement had been reached. He wondered whether he and his colleagues were using the right method in their attempt to arrive at agreement. After an encouraging start in discussing the peace treaty with Italy they had had disagreement on a series of points and had merely stated conflicting views. The French Delegation believed that apart from the regular meetings of the Council and of the Deputies it might be advisable to allow the heads of delegations, with less documentation and fewer representatives, to meet for informal discussions. He suggested this procedure because he thought that his colleagues had certainly formed an opinion similar to his regarding the results of their deliberations thus far and saw the drawback of continuing this procedure to the very end without having attempted to find some other way which might lead to agreement. He believed his suggestion to be a wise one and requested the opinion of his colleagues.

Mr. Byrnes thought that the accuracy of M. Bidault’s statements had to be admitted. He believed that they should try anything which might give hope of reaching agreement. He did not know exactly what M. Bidault was proposing but recalled that at Moscow in December the three Foreign Ministers had made certain progress through informal conferences. The United States Delegation was prepared to agree to the proposal for informal meetings.

M. Molotov recalled that experience had shown that meetings of that sort were helpful.

[Page 213]

Mr. Bevin said that he did not mind adopting such a procedure but that he had very grave doubts that it would result in any real progress.

M. Bidault said that hope was one of the great forces in the world, and that perhaps if they had abandoned some of it at this table, they might regain it at another.

It was agreed to hold informal meetings as proposed by M. Bidault.

Mr. Byrnes asked whether it was proposed to meet that afternoon informally.

M. Bidault thought that, at the point at which the Council had arrived in its work, it was desirable to survey the situation as soon as possible in an informal way. He thought that it was desirable for the Foreign Ministers to express themselves as clearly as possible.

It was agreed that the informal meetings proposed should take place in the office of whoever was acting chairman. As the rules stipulated that the chairmanship should rotate every meeting, it was agreed that the meeting that afternoon should be held in the office of Mr. Byrnes at 5:00 o’clock. It was then agreed that a limited number of advisers should attend.

The meeting adjourned at 1:50 p.m.

  1. For a list of persons present at this meeting, see the Record of Decisions, infra.
  2. Reference here is to the memorandum by the United Kingdom Delegation, “Draft Heads of Treaty with Italy”, C.F.M. (45) 3, September 12, 1945, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 135. The United Kingdom memorandum had been used by the Deputies as a basis for their work in preparing a draft peace treaty for Italy.
  3. Alcide de Gasperi, Italian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
  4. The original invitation to the Yugoslav and Italian Governments had proposed that the hearing be held on the morning of May 3.
  5. Not printed.
  6. In communications to the Council of Foreign Ministers dated May 1 and May 2, 1946, the Yugoslav Government accepted the invitation to present a statement on the Italo-Yugoslav boundary report and had designated a delegation headed by Edvard Kardalj, Vice Chairman of the Yugoslav Council of Ministers. See C.F.M.(46) 27, May 1 and C.F.M.(46) 33, May 2, 1946, neither printed (C.F.M. Files: Lot M–88: Box 2061: CFM Documents).