862.00/4–248: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Douglas ) to the Secretary of State

us urgent

1330. For Hickerson from Douglas.

In discussing with Bevin this morning the date on which the talks on Germany, which were recessed on March 6, should be resumed, he indicated that he preferred that it be postponed to about the 27th so as [Page 164] to provide for a week’s notification subsequent to the Italian election.1 His preference was based upon his fear that publication of the resumption of the talks on the 20th prior to the Italian election might induce the Soviet to take some action which might adversely affect the results of the election.
Subsequently, I talked with Massigli who indicated that his government was very anxious that the meeting be reconvened as soon as possible. In this conversation, as a result of a telephonic talk with Clay yesterday, I told Massigli that I thought the French were unduly sticky in Berlin in regard to coordination of their policies in the French Zone with the policies of the Bizonal area; were not acting as though they were conscious of the prompt action which the European situation required; and that according to my information had retreated somewhat from the position they had taken in London on the structure and organization of the government for Germany.

Massigli indicated that if this were true in regard to the coordination of policies between, the zones, the French were making a mistake. As to the discussions on the structure of government etc., he felt that in Berlin they had served their purpose and should now be transferred to the resumed meeting on Germany to be held in London.

I then talked with Clay in Berlin who feels that the London meeting should be reconvened as soon as possible; that if the British and US meet on the 15th or 16th for preliminary exchange of views; and that if the four participants, that is the US, UK, French and Benelux, convene on the 20th, the time requirements will be satisfied. He is somewhat apprehensive that if the talks are put off beyond this date, the Soviet will have taken action in Berlin and in their zone which will have an adverse effect upon developments in the three western zones. He doubts that the Soviet will be able to do any more to influence the Italian elections than they are now doing.
At first blush I was somewhat persuaded by Bevin’s view as to timing, but after my conversation with Clay it seems to me that we are on the horns of a dilemma. On one horn, by postponing until the 27th the reconvening of the London meeting, we may place ourselves in a vulnerable position in western Germany. On the other horn, by reconvening the meeting on the 20th,”the Soviet may be induced to take some action which may adversely affect the Italian election.

On consideration, it seems to me the risks are fewer by adhering to the 20th at the latest as the date for reconvening the talks in London than by postponing them.

It is not impossible that preliminary talks with British could be [Page 165] advanced to the 13th and that full meeting be scheduled for 15th. If you concur, I suggest that I put this view to Bevin.

Sent Department as 1330, repeated Berlin (for Murphy and Clay) 73.

  1. In telegram 1094, March 30, to London, not printed, the Department concurred in a suggestion made by Ambassador Douglas that the London Conference on Germany be reconvened on April 20. Douglas was requested to take up the suggestion with Foreign Secretary Bevin. (862.00/3–3048)