740.00119 EW/3–1549: Telegram

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


971. I met last night with Bevin and Schuman. I outlined basis our agreement to discuss PRI and Humphrey list at this time and 4- or 5-day deadline. I also outlined our position with Congress on Humphrey list and our basic attitude PRI as given Deptel 823,1 part two, paragraphs A and B, and added US not willing make unjustifiable concessions on PRI, the more important, to obtain agreement on Humphrey recommendations, the lesser in importance.

Bevin burst out about our assurances of last year, was generally petulant, thought way negotiations PRI terminated in Berlin arbitrary, questioned motives of US steel recommendations which he said were inspired by US steel industry’s desires for foreign influence and control. I replied vigorously to his outburst and he modified general attitude and specifically withdrew last statement. Thereafter, he presented agenda and we agreed talks today by officials on general details Humphrey list and PRI.2 We may meet again tonight, otherwise sometime tomorrow. Schuman remains. Schuman said little. Significant, however, he indicated French concern with Hamborn, Bochum and Kimfeld plants and, in steel group, mentioned no others. British offered to retain 20 more plants than the 117. I replied could not reconsider. [Page 567] We had very little, if any, latitude within area of Humphrey report.3

Both Bevin and Schuman stated categorically anxious promptly to reach settlement. British raised question deliveries to Soviets and IARA. I attempted avoid detailed discussion on grounds no instructions Soviet problem and IARA has no rights so that problem simply one of judicious and non-excitement-creating presentation. Does Department wish instruct?4 Daspit not coming here re Swiss accord.5 Might be useful have him later this week.

I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic but I feel we have laid before British and French only basis on which agreement is possible and passed first crisis negotiations. I expect more, nevertheless. Thanks for urtel 847.3

Repeated Paris for Caffery 176, Berlin for Riddleberger and Clay 151.

  1. Ante, p. 560.
  2. In telegram 982, March 15 (11 p. m.), from London, not printed, Douglas reported further details on the discussion with the British and French. The number of plants to be removed was reduced to eighteen and the questions of shipbuilding, electronic valves, synthetic gas and oil, rubber, ball and roller bearings, machine tools, and aluminum were considered. Douglas also reported British and French resentment and doubt about the United States interest in security. (740.00119 EW/3–1549)
  3. Not printed.
  4. In telegram 894, March 16, to London, not printed, the Department advised Embassy London that in view of the situation in Berlin it was undesirable to dispose of the plants set aside for reparations for the Soviet Union. (740.00119 EW/3–1549)
  5. Under reference here are the negotiations concerning German assets in Switzerland, which took place in London and Bern in early 1949, before being transferred to Washington, May 11. Documentation relating to these talks is in file 800.515; for a summary of the talks and the issues considered, see Germany 1947–1949, pp. 408–409.
  6. Not printed.