740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–1549

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

top secret

Participants: Dr. Yakov A. Malik, U.S.S.R. Delegation to the United Nations
Dr. Philip C. Jessup, U.S. Ambassador at Large

I made an appointment with Mr. Malik by telephone from Washington last night and called on him at his office at 11:30 this morning. [Page 713] We talked for an hour and forty minutes. On this occasion he had a very adequate interpreter.

I began by reading him the agreed statement.1 He asked for clarification on the question of the relative dates of the lifting of the blockade and the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. I repeated the appropriate paragraphs and said this meant that if we agreed on a date for the meeting of the CFM, the date for the lifting of the blockade could be a date earlier in time.

Malik then asked for clarification of the paragraph in the statement relating to the Western German Government. He restated the previous views expressed in our earlier conversations and gave a fair summary of them. I in turn summarized our previous conversations and recalled particularly that it had been explicit that we would make no promise about the establishment of the Western German Government after the meeting of the CFM but indicated that as a factual matter if the meeting of the CFM were held in the reasonably near future, it would begin before the Western German Government was in existence. I explicitly repeated those parts of the statements which said that we would continue with the preparations and repeated that we did not make any promise to abandon those preparations. Malik then made a long statement during which he referred to some typewritten notes. He recalled Stalin’s reply to Kingsbury Smith2 and our discussion of the question of the Western German Government’s establishment. He said that I had told him that the question of this establishment could not arise if the CFM should meet, for example, “tomorrow” and that the question would not be “acute”. He later explained that the word “acute” was used in the sense that the session of the CFM would proceed in the absence of the Western German Government. He commented that we now said that we would continue with the preparations even in the very midst of a CFM. I recalled from memory the nature of Stalin’s statement on this point and that he had appeared to deal with it as if the postponement of the establishment of the Western German Government were a condition precedent to a CFM. It was in this connection that I said that since the government was not in existence now, the problem did not arise.

Malik then sent for a Russian newspaper containing the text of Stalin’s replies to Kingsbury Smith and read question No. 3 and [Page 714] Stalin’s answer to it.3 He also referred to his notes to recall what he told me Vishinsky had said. He interpreted the word “postponement” in connection with the third of Kingsbury Smith’s questions as meaning postponement until the calling of a CFM. I repeated our position in regard to the word “postpone” indicating again that since the government was not established, it was not a question of postponement. I said we could make no statement regarding what might happen after a meeting of the CFM began; that we do not know when the meeting might be held or how long it would last. Malik then said that Kingsbury Smith’s question meant the postponement not only of the establishment of the Western German Government but the postponement of preparations for it. He then restated our position accurately and said he would report it to Vishinsky. I pointed out that Kingsbury Smith did not say anything about postponing preparations and that he did not use the word “abandon” or the words “give up” in this connection.

Malik then said I had previously used the word “tomorrow” in connection with the date of the meeting of the CFM and today I had used the expression “reasonably near future”. He said that if the CFM were to meet “tomorrow” and the Western German Government were established “the day after tomorrow” that would present some difficulty. He asked what I had in mind by the expression “reasonably near future”. He said that it was obvious that no matter how hard he and I tried, it would obviously be impossible actually to arrange for the CFM “tomorrow”.

I said that we of course recognized this and we recognize that various arrangements would have to be made and that we would all need to consider engagements of the Foreign Ministers. I said that just as a rough indication we had in mind that “reasonably near future” might mean five or six weeks.

Malik then asked whether that meant that we would not establish the Western German Government for five or six weeks. I said that as I had previously stated, if the Council of Foreign Ministers met within such a time, it could meet in the absence of the existence of the Western German Government.

[Page 715]

Malik then asked if I had any ideas about the agenda for the CFM. I referred to the statement which mentioned “matters arising out of the situation in Berlin and matters affecting Germany as a whole”. I asked Malik whether he had in mind any other question which would be on the agenda which was not covered by this expression. He said, “Personally, I think it covers.”

Malik then said that I had made no mention of currency. I inquired in turn whether this was not included in “matters arising out of the situation in Berlin”. Malik said it could be if that is what we agreed and he merely wished to call attention to the fact that they had said they considered the currency question important and that he had mentioned it before. I replied that I recognized this.

Malik then asked whether the governments of the United Kingdom and of France, when we had informed them about our conversations, had made any further suggestion regarding the date and the agenda. I replied that the statement which I had made this morning was intended to make certain that we understood the views of the Soviet Government and to indicate that if our understanding was correct we could proceed with arrangements. The question of the date and the exact agenda would be a next step.

Malik then asked what the procedure would be. I said that I assumed that if the Soviet Government wished to proceed with the arrangements, that the discussions would need to include representatives of the United Kingdom and of France. Malik asked whether that meant that we could not have any further conversation alone. I told him that I would always be glad to meet him informally but that it seemed obvious that if the matter were to be formalized, we would need to include the representatives of Great Britain and France. He again asked why they did not make some suggestions now about date and agenda. I said we had an “open mind” on this question. The interpreter had some difficulty in translating this expression and I asked Malik if he understood what it meant. He and the interpreter said there was no equivalent expression in Russian, but he understood my meaning. He mentioned that these informal conversations of ours were not binding, with which I agreed. He then said that he would report what I had said to Vishinsky.

I told him that I would be returning to Washington but would be back in New York again and he could always leave a message for me at our New York office.

Malik summarized our discussion by saying he understood that the position was that a meeting of the CFM could be held on the conditions stated this morning. I said that was correct.

  1. Infra.
  2. The reference here is to a series of four questions submitted to Stalin by INS correspondent Kingsbury Smith in late January, and Stalin’s reply to them January 30. The text of the questions and replies is printed in the New York Times, January 31, p. 4.
  3. They read as follows:

    “If the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France agreed to postpone the establishment of a separate Western German state, pending a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to consider the German problem as a whole, would the Government of the U.S.S.R. be prepared to remove the restrictions which the Soviet authorities have imposed on communications between Berlin and the western Zones of Germany?

    Provided the United States of America, Great Britain and France observe the conditions set forth in the third question the Soviet Government sees no obstacle to lifting transport restrictions, on the understanding, that transport and trade restrictions introduced by the three powers be lifted simultaneously.”