CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 140: JessupMalik Conversations

Memorandum of Conversation, by the United States Ambassador at Large ( Jessup )

top secret

Participants: (Separately)
Mr. Yakov A. Malik, U.S.S.R.
Sir Terence Shone, United Kingdom
Ambassador Chauvel, France
Dr. Philip C. Jessup, U.S. Ambassador at Large

Keeping appointments made for me by Mr. Ross last Friday, I called this morning on Sir Terence Shone, Acting Head of the United Kingdom Delegation to the United Nations during Sir Alexander Cadogan’s absence, and Ambassador Chauvel, head of the French Delegation. I told them both that as Mr. Ross had indicated, I merely wished to inform them concerning the conversations which I had had with Malik. I pointed out that we did not know whether anything would come of these conversations but that we certainly wanted to keep them fully informed about them. I then gave them the gist of the matter confining myself to the discussion of the Berlin case. I told them that I was seeing Malik later today and that we would let them know the outcome of the conversation. The only comments made by Sir Terence and Chauvel, aside from general interest and appreciation of the information, were the following. Shone inquired whether my first casual question to Malik was by instruction of the Department or whether it had merely come up incidentally. I told him that there [Page 701] had been no formal plan in the Department to open negotiations with the Russians but that some of us had talked it over. It had been felt that it might be useful to drop a casual inquiry merely to see what the result would be. Chauvel’s comment was that sometime ago one of their staff in Berlin (whose name I think was Noblet?) had been approached by his Russian opposite number with a general feeler about informal discussions but that they had not felt that Berlin was a good place to begin such discussions and they had never followed it up or heard anything more from it.

I then kept my appointment, which had been made on Saturday through the Mission, with Malik at his office. A different member of his staff functioned as interpreter on this occasion and had great difficulty in finding English words to translate Malik’s statements. On several occasions Malik abandoned the attempt to get a proper interpretation and spoke in English. This factor is important because in the course of the conversation some temporary misunderstandings arose due to faulty translation.

Malik was as usual very cordial. As on the previous occasion, he had in his hand a typewritten sheet containing the principal statements he wished to make, but on this occasion the interpreter apparently had merely a carbon also in Russian.

Malik began by saying that he had informed Vishinsky about our previous conversation.1 Vishinsky had replied that if an affirmative agreement is reached upon a date for a meeting of the CFM, there can be a reciprocal lifting of the restrictions on transportation and trade in Berlin. I explored this point and asked whether Vishinsky had indicated whether the date for the lifting of the blockade would be the same date as the meeting or whether the two dates could be different. I asked whether, for example, if it were decided that a meeting could be held say on April 15, it was contemplated that the blockade measures could be lifted say on the 10th, 5th or 1st of April. Malik replied that the dates could be different. He said he could not make any specific commitment on the lapse of time, whether it would be one, five or ten days, but that the date of the lifting of the blockade could be prior to the date for the CFM. He asked when I thought a meeting of the CFM could be held. I said I had no instructions to agree to a meeting or to fix a date; that just as in his case as he reported information to his government so I would report to mine and let him know. I said that if there were agreement to hold a meeting, there were various arrangements which would have to be made and these would take some time. He fully agreed with this and when I pressed him for his ideas about the time of a meeting, he merely indicated that Vishinsky thought it [Page 702] could be held in the near future. I said that as far as I could recall, it had originally been decided that meetings of the CFM should be held in various capitals in rotation and that the next capital in line was Paris. He said the last meeting of the CFM was so long ago that he had forgotten the details but he thought this was correct. I said I assumed that if a meeting were arranged, there would be many matters to be discussed and I wondered whether Vishinsky felt that these matters should be arranged through the ordinary channels or whether he contemplated that discussions should continue between ourselves. He said that his personal idea was that perhaps we should have a little further discussion and then turn the matter into regular official channels. In the course of this discussion, I introduced the point that of course if a CFM were to be held, there were two other governments which had to take part. Malik returned to his notes and mentioned that they still considered the currency issue important but that this could be discussed along with other questions at the CFM.

He then went on to say that Vishinsky attributed importance to my statement at our previous meeting that the Western German Government does not now exist. He proceeded to talk in Russian and the translator indicated that Vishinsky understood that I had said we would “call off” the Western German Government if there were a CFM. I interrupted at that point and reminded Malik that I had never made any promise in regard to “calling off” the Western German Government. I recalled the exact language I had used to the effect that the Western German Government does not now exist so that if there were a meeting of the CFM tomorrow, for example, it would take place in the absence of a Western German Government. I asked him specifically whether he had gotten any different impression from what I had said the last time. He confirmed my recollection of the previous conversation and corrected the interpretation. He then made it clear that what they had in mind was that the Western German Government would not be in existence at the moment the CFM met. He was very precise about this and did not suggest that we must promise that it would not be set up during the CFM meetings. Although I dwelt on this point at some length and although we seemed to be in agreement, this is a point which obviously must be made even more precise in any further discussion.

Malik then went on, referring to his notes, to say that Vishinsky sees no objection to other questions being discussed informally by Malik and me. I asked whether Vishinsky had mentioned any such other questions, and Malik said that he had not and asked me what I had in mind. I reminded him that on the previous occasion I had [Page 703] told him I had no specific question in mind and I said I had no instructions to raise any particular question. However, just as an example, I would personally ask him what he thought of discussing the question of Greece. He replied by inquiring “Is that an acute question between our two governments?” He went on to indicate that it was not. He said that we were definitely involved in the Greek question through the presence of our military mission and in other ways but that the Soviet Government was not. I remarked that the Soviet Government has relations with the border states. Malik laughingly said that they had diplomatic relations with these states but they also had them with the United States. I remarked that in addition to diplomatic relations they had a certain influence with these states and he said with a laugh and with significant emphasis that they did have influence with some of them but not with all of them. He said he had no instructions on this but that speaking personally he did not think that it was an acute question.2 I again pressed him to indicate whether he had any other question in mind that was acute in Soviet-American relations and he merely mentioned the Berlin question—it was perhaps significant that he spoke of the question of Berlin and not the question of Germany. I reminded him that we were now discussing questions other than that of Berlin but he had nothing further to offer. I said I would report Mr. Vishinsky’s views to my government and let him know if there were any particular questions to discuss with him.

He then asked me if I would take part in the General Assembly. I said I was not yet sure how much I would have to do with this session and asked him about his plans. He said he was sorry to say that he would have to take part. I asked him whether he thought it would be a long session. He said he thought not, that there were not as many questions to discuss as there were in Paris. I remarked that if there were not as many questions to discuss, perhaps there would not need to be as many long speeches. He replied that personally he was in favor of short meetings but sometimes conditions created situations requiring long speeches. He said that we were in a more advantageous position than they were because we always had our “mechanical majority”. I said I saw no reason why the same speeches needed to be repeated in subcommittee, committee and plenary. He remarked that it was better to have “hot” discussions on the “lower level”. I suggested that after they had made long speeches to committees and came into plenary they might really redistribute copies of their previous speeches instead [Page 704] of repeating them orally, to which he replied that sometimes they changed some words in them.

Malik then said that he had seen a speech of mine in which I had said that the Soviet Union does not cooperate in the United Nations. He said this was not true, that it was a matter of principle with them to strengthen the United Nations. He said that Secretary Marshall in one speech remarked that we felt we must stand by our principles. He felt that this was correct but that we ought to realize that other countries also have principles and that they also must maintain their principles. Somewhat petulantly he remarked that they could never get any favorable action on anything they suggested in the United Nations. I replied that they might get better action if they made better suggestions. Returning to the question of cooperation, I asked him why they did not cooperate with the Interim Committee. He said the Interim Committee was an illegitimate child but added that under Soviet law illegitimate children are recognized. I said if this was the case, there was no reason why they shouldn’t play with an illegitimate child. I then asked about their cooperation with the specialized agencies. He said they did cooperate with some of them, to which I remarked that they cooperated with only two out of thirteen. I asked whether they had a principle applicable to non-cooperation with the rest of them. Rather defensively he replied that the trouble with many of them was that they were operated in the interests of particular groups and they wanted these specialized agencies to broaden out, take account of the general interest. He indicated rather indirectly that perhaps some of these special cases could be considered.

Returning to the question of expediting the work of the General Assembly, he referred to the Scandinavian proposal. He said that he had discussed this with some of them and never could find out just precisely what definite ideas they had in mind. He said they were in favor of the general idea of examining this question and thought it was worth discussing.3

I told him that I would communicate with my government and let him know when we could talk again.4

  1. March 15; a memorandum of this conversation is printed on p. 695.
  2. Documentation relating to the conclusion of the Greek civil war is in volume vi .
  3. The reference here is to a proposal by Sweden, Denmark, and Norway for the appointment of a Special Committee to examine the possibility of improving the procedure of the General Assembly. Documentation relating to this proposal is in volume i .
  4. In telegram 979, March 22, to London (repeated to Paris as 892), not printed, the Department of State summarized the conversations with Malik and asked Douglas and Caffery to inform Bevin and Schuman accordingly. They were also to suggest that the conversations could be discussed in Washington at the beginning of April, when the Foreign Ministers were to attend the talks on the North Atlantic Treaty. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–2249)