874.00/2–246: Telegram

The Counselor of the Department of State (Cohen) to the Secretary of State

us urgent

1299. For the Secretary from Cohen. We are somewhat dubious as to the advisability of presenting the suggestion in your 1080, January 31, 6 p.m. concerning the calling of new elections in Bulgaria to Vyshinski for the following reasons:

Vyshinski in view of his comments to you and Mr. Bevin concerning the reasons for the failure of the Soviet approach in Bulgaria, would undoubtedly regard such a suggestion on our part as open support of the position of the Opposition and confirmation of the suspicions he voiced that the U.S. secretly was encouraging the Opposition in its attitude.
Even if we were successful in persuading the Soviet Government to advise the Bulgarian Government to hold new elections there is real danger that since the elections are to be held by the present Government that despite assurances to the contrary they would be conducted along the same lines as the previous election with somewhat the same result. Should we make this suggestion and it be accepted we would then be committed to recognition irrespective of the results of the new election.

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Bohlen has this morning discussed this subject with Hayter of the Foreign Office.42 Hayter states without direct reference to Bevin that he is convinced that the latter will not wish to take up Bulgaria with Vyshinski until he had had an opportunity to consult with Houstoun-Boswall42a who is expected in London from Sofia early next week. Furthermore the Foreign Office also feels quite strongly that it would be a mistake to take the initiative in proposing concrete measures in regard to Bulgaria to Vyshinski and that there is every advantage in letting the next suggestion come from the Soviet Government. Bevin has already made it plain to Vyshinski that the British Government could not agree to bring pressure to bear on the Opposition to enter the Government at the sacrifice of their principles.43 Hayter’s first reaction to the suggestion concerning new elections was that such a suggestion coming from US would be tactically undesirable for the reasons given above, but in addition quite apart from this consideration he was dubious as to the advisability of the proposal itself, pointing out that there was no ground for believing that new elections would be any different in the manner carried out or in the result from those held last November.

In the circumstances, we are of the opinion that it would be inadvisable to approach Vyshinski before Bevin has an opportunity to confer with Houstoun-Boswall. In the event that Bevin after consulting with Houstoun-Boswall still does not wish to take up the matter with Vyshinski, I could see Vyshinski for a conversation in order to clarify our position. In that case if you approve I suggest that I tell Vyshinski that our interpretation of the Moscow decision was that the Government and Opposition should be urged to find a mutually acceptable basis for the participation in the present Government of two truly representative members of the Opposition parties and that it was never the understanding of the US Government that pressure was to be exerted on the Opposition to nominate two candidates for pro forma inclusion into the Government without regard to the conditions of their participation. It could be made clear to Vyshinski that although it is true as he stated to you the Moscow agreement did not set forth any specific conditions for the inclusion of the two representatives of the Opposition, on the other hand it did not preclude and instead, in our view, did anticipate that the participation of these representatives would be on the basis of conditions [Page 68] mutually agreeable to both the Bulgarian Government and the opposition.

After making our understanding on this point clear to Vyshinski, I am of the opinion that the best method at the present time would be to ask the Soviet Government what suggestions if any it had as to the next step in the Bulgarian matter. We all feel here that to approach the Russians with concrete suggestions of our own might be interpreted by the Soviet Government as an indication of our willingness to accept any pro forma solution in order to dispose of the question. It would be more advisable in our opinion to take the position that since the Soviet Government had assumed the responsibility of giving advice to the Bulgarian Government we wish to have their suggestions as to further steps.

I have discussed this matter fully with Dunn and others here and they are in entire agreement. I would appreciate urgently your instruction in the light of the foregoing observations.

  1. William G. Hayter, Head of the Southern Department of the British Foreign Office.
  2. William Evelyn Houstoun-Boswall was the British political representative in Bulgaria since 1945.
  3. Telegram 1659, February 9, from London, reported that Bevin had definitely decided not to take the initiative in raising again with Vyshinsky the Bulgarian question (874.00/2–946).