740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–1549

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

top secret

Participants: Mr. Yakov A. Malik, USSR Representative to the UN Ambassador Philip C. Jessup

Mr. Malik telephoned Saturday noon and asked for an appointment. I went to see him in New York at 2:30 Sunday.1

Malik began by reading a statement which was substantially as follows:

Vishinsky has received the report of our last conversation.2 Vishinsky understands that, with reference to the statement I made3 concerning the establishment of the Western German Government, this means that the Western German Government will not be established before the convening of a CFM or during the work of the session of the CFM. Since the parties have agreed to lift simultaneously the restrictions on communications, transportation and trade between the Western and Eastern zones and since the Western German Government would not be set up before or during the CFM, no obstacle exists to holding conversations regarding the date and agenda bearing in mind that the CFM will meet in five or six weeks and that the four ministers will attend the meeting. An exchange of views can also be had regarding the date for lifting the restrictions.

I then summed up the nature of our previous conversation with particular emphasis upon the fact that I had made it very explicit that we would not make any promise concerning the establishment of the Western German Government during the meeting of the CFM; that we had merely undertaken to say that, if the CFM met within five or six weeks, it would meet before the Western German Government was established.

Malik replied that I had correctly summed up the exchange of opinions in our last meeting. He in turn repeated what we had said and then stated that Vishinsky understands this to mean that the Western German Government would not be set up either before calling the CFM or during the meeting. He then read again the Vishinsky statement and concluded that it was thus that Vishinsky understands the results of our talks.

I went over the same ground noting the difference between the understanding of Vishinsky and the conclusions reached in my conversations with Malik. I reminded him that I had said before that I had described [Page 718] the matter in factual terms, that I had said we would continue our preparations, that we did not know how long these preparations would take nor did we know how long the CFM would take. We had definitely not made any agreement that the Western German Government would not be set up during the CFM meeting. As a further indication of the factual situation, I said that he undoubtedly had noted in the papers the report of the Secretary of State’s press conference on Friday, April 8, in which the Secretary had indicated the various steps which had to be taken before the Western German Government was set up but in which he had definitely declined to hazard a guess as to the date by which these steps would be completed. I said it was very important that we should be clear on this matter and that I hoped Vishinsky understands our position. I said that Malik and I must avoid any possibility of a misunderstanding on this point.

Malik replied that he did not think that “anything indefinite can contribute to a definite arrangement on concrete questions”. He said it was therefore expedient to reach a more definite arrangement “considering the importance of the question as a whole”.

I asked him what he had in mind by a “more definite arrangement”.

Malik said if Vishinsky’s statement could be accepted by all concerned then, as Vishinsky had said, we could hold an exchange of views on the concrete points indicated. I replied that, if our statement were accepted by all concerned, we could similarly proceed with the arrangement of all details.

Malik said he was sorry that my summary of our conversation differed somewhat from his; namely, in that were we to agree on calling a CFM in the reasonably near future it would take place in the absence of a Western German Government but that the three powers would continue with their preparations. So far we were agreed. However, Malik said he understood personally that, under my statement, if the CFM were called for example on the fifth of some month then on the sixth “as a surprise for the Ministers” the Western German Government might be established. He embroidered on this by applying the same thought to the possibility of its being established on the seventh or eighth of the month.

I restated the extent of our agreement and told him that he must realize that I had no authority to make the promise that the Western German Government would not be established during the CFM meeting. He nodded his agreement. He went on to say that, since this was the case, he would ask me to convey Vishinsky’s statement to Mr. Acheson together with a report on this conversation of ours. He asked what would be the view of the United States regarding the possibility that the Western German Government would be perhaps [Page 719] established on the second or third day of the meeting “during the heat of its work, figuratively speaking.”

I asked him just what question he wished me to take up with The Secretary—was it the question whether the Government would be established during the first few days of the meeting or whether it would not be established at all during the CFM which, judging by the experience of previous sessions, might continue for some time. Malik replied that he was not authorized to put the question in any other way than that stated by Vishinsky in the statement which he had read to me. He said that an arrangement according to which the Western German Government would not be established either before or during the CFM would correspond best to reaching agreement. He then added that he would like me to report also the other part of Vishinsky’s statement to the effect that it should be borne in mind that, since the parties have expressed their willingness to lift the restrictions on communications, transportation and trade between the Eastern and Western zones of Germany, no obstacles existed to entering into conversations to fix the details, bearing in mind also that the CFM would meet within five or six weeks with the four ministers present.

I then called attention to the fact that Vishinsky’s formula regarding the lifting of restrictions was not identical with that which I had made in my statement to him on April 5; Vishinsky referred merely to restrictions between Eastern and Western zones and did not refer specifically to restrictions between Berlin and the Western zones. I reread at this point the second paragraph of our agreed statement of April 5.

Malik replied that it was true Vishinsky’s formula did not repeat textually everything that was in my statement. It seemed to me clear that he had not noticed the discrepancy and he indicated that probably no importance was to be attached to it since Vishinsky’s formula was merely a brief summary. He said, however, he would be glad to ask Vishinsky for clarification. I said it would be desirable to clear this up to be sure there was no misunderstanding on this particular point.

Malik said that he agreed with my opinion that we should reach agreement in general conversations before making the understanding concrete to avoid any misunderstanding and that is why he had spoken of indefinite statements not being helpful in reaching concrete results. For this reason he thought it would be useful to reach agreement on the lifting of the restrictions and on the establishment of the Western German Government. On the latter point, he personally did not think it would be appropriate if we did not reach agreement, by which I understood him to mean reach agreement on Vishinsky’s formulation. [Page 720] As to the date of the lifting of the restrictions and the other concrete points, we could go on to agree on them after the general basis was settled.

The impression I gained was that they were “horsetrading” on the question of the establishment of the Western German Government during the CFM. Malik’s remarks about the possibility of its being established on the second or third day of the meeting clearly suggested to me a trading area short of complete acceptance of Vishinsky’s desire for a promise that the Government would not be established at all during the CFM. In the second place, it seemed to me clear that he wanted to avoid breaking off the attempt to reach agreement; this was emphasized by the statement which he made about “the importance of the question as a whole”. In the third place, it is clear to me that there is no misunderstanding in Malik’s mind about the position we have taken. I interpreted Vishinsky’s statement which says that he “understands” that the Government will not be established during the CFM as being merely an attempt to parallel the form of our statement of April 5. In that statement we set forth a number of understandings and said, if these are correct, we could go ahead. Vishinsky is evidently restating one of the understandings in the hope that we will agree to it.4

Philip C. Jessup
  1. April 10.
  2. April 5.
  3. Supra.
  4. Following his fourth conversation with Malik, Jessup reported to the Secretary of State and President Truman. In his meeting with the President the Ambassador presented the text of an undated memorandum, not printed, prepared in the Department of State, which would instruct the Secretary of State to continue the private talks, instructing Jessup in particular to obtain confirmation of the Soviet readiness to lift the blockade. The British and French were to be kept abreast of all these developments (CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 140). The President approved the memorandum on April 12. Memorandum by Jessup, April 12, not printed (CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 140). On the same day the Department informed Douglas and Caffery of the progress of the conversations.