740.00119 Council/2–2048: Telegram

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


663. Delsec 1561. US and UK held their first informal preliminary meeting today in India Office to discuss three power talks on Germany.1 [Page 76] Sir William Strang chaired. Agreed that minimum of publicity desired for informal exploratory talks. If publicity desirable at any point conferees will agree on careful limits on it, but let each delegation talk within these limits. Strang indicated French Concurrence in this approach.

Discussed agenda2 in respect to French request for changes in regard to the understanding of points for discussion.

Under first item French, suggest deletion “long term” as being unduly restrictive to Benelux. Under item F French suggest substitute “Germany” for “three western zones”. Agreed that these changes did not make any real difference.

Purpose these preliminary meetings explained to be to: 1) establish plan of procedure prior to three power meeting, 2) emphasize joint responsibility, and experience in Germany, 3) create joint plans for common program, 4) discuss bizonal matters, and 5) determine differences of opinion in agenda items.

The purpose of trizonal talks described by Strang as to undertake informal exploration and not to reach final agreement on items. Aim is have thorough discussion with French, it being first of such/opportunities may attempt agreement on all items, but immediate importance attaches to agreement as item F. New factor emphasizes role Germany must play in European economic recovery. Having responsibility for seeing; that governmental machinery of right kind for this purpose is established.

Douglas replied that valid reasons exist for not arriving at final decisions and agreed with plan for complete exploration airing of views. Emphasized importance opportunity exchange of views with Benelux countries.

Group agreed soonest to meet With Benelux arid A to be first item for consideration. Two points were considered concerning procedure this item: 1) procedure for talks, and 2) kind of continuing arrangement for the future. Agreed to meet with French prior to Monday to [Page 77] consider communication to Benelux inviting them to be prepared to participate in discussions starting Tuesday or Wednesday. Tentatively agreed to have them participate in discussion of all items except B and E and trizonal fusion since these relate to zonal operative problems. Agreed to consider further their role on these questions.

On second point Strang proposed monthly meetings with Benelux representatives at Frankfurt to exchange information and views but with no power to intervene or delay. Douglas expressed doubts as to practicability of this proposal but asked time to consider it.

Item B passed over pending receipt of Washington paper.3

Item C broken down by Strang into two phases, short term and long term. Long term he recommended not to be discussed very much. Short term interested him more. He recommended associating Benelux in some sort of immediate control. Tentative proposal was for immediate establishment of heavy industry inspectorate for bizonal area, to be participated in by Benelux. Agreed that during occupation security did not make this kind of operation urgent. He added that Bevin has viewed idea of three tier approach to long term problem: 1) German management or the cutting out of international management; 2) German public ownership; 3) international control involving in this stage the three powers and the Benelux but no international ownership or international management but German-owned and German-managed.

UK not yet clear as to exact scope international control. Incidentally indicated UK considering desirability of military occupation of Ruhr and Rhineland by Western European powers for indefinite period, certainly something like 40 year period proposed for D and D treaty.4

Douglas stated US position, emphasizing belief no steps required in occupation period. Critical nature of sanctions problem respect to, control of allocations and other security measures discussed at length.

In response to Douglas restatement US views on public ownership Robertson suggested; highly desirable agree here if possible on joint statement on this issue which would for present push it to the background in German party discussions. Cited it as issued leading SPD to members to join forces with CP.

It was tentatively understood that entire agenda should be reviewed after discussions with Benelux.

Discussion to continue Friday, February 20.

  1. On February 19, 20, and 21, 1948, United States and British Delegations held three informal meetings at the India Office of the British Foreign Office. These informal American-British meetings were preliminary to the American-British-French meetings on Germany which began, on February 23. The United States Delegation members present at these three meetings were: Ambassador Lewis W. Douglas (the Delegation head), Samuel Reber, Edwin M. Martin, John C. de Wilde, and Lt. Col. Theodore W. Parker. Present on the British side were: Sir William Strang (the British Delegation head), Deputy Under-Secretary of State Sir Edmund L. Hall-Patch, Lt Gen. Sir Brian Robertson, Deputy Under-Secretary of State Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, Christopher E. Steel, Deputy Under-Secretary of State Roger M. Makins, Roger B, Stevens, Patrick Dean, and John W. Nicholls. The United States Delegation Minutes and the British Delegation Records of these meetings are included in the Department of State files, Lot M–88, CFM Files, Box 118.
  2. The proposed agenda for the American-British-French meetings on Germany was set forth in note of January 30 from the Secretary of State to the British Ambassador, p. 49.
  3. The paper under reference here is not printed.
  4. The reference here is presumably to the draft treaty for German disarmament and demilitarization first proposed by the United States in April 1946.