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

Draft of a Telegram From the Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1

top secret

[1394.] Eyes Only Ambassador and Holmes from Acheson. Please see Bevin immediately and convey following from me personally.

[Page 729]

I am disturbed by failure to reach agreement on tactics in next moves with Russians on Berlin–CFM question. Differences between us are only tactical but in President’s and my opinion most important. We, Bevin and Schuman are agreed on objectives and in common concern lest talks with Russians disturb plans for Western German Government. We are convinced it is necessary to continue informal talks with Malik in order to stave off premature Russian public offer which they can make at any moment. We believe Russians most likely to make such public move if they conclude we will not continue informal talks. Further oral statement by Jessup to Malik along lines text sent Bevin by Cadogan 2 would envisage Moscow reply by end this week. If Soviets then agree in principle, further talks with Cadogan and Chauvel present would be necessary to arrange details of dates and nature of blockade lifting, time and place CFM, and broad lines of agenda. With need for telegraphic confirmation in Moscow, this would bring us well into first week of May before any public announcement would be made. Meanwhile newspaper publicity and reported renewed activity Evatt make informal arrangements more difficult.

While recognizing Bevin’s desire to have Soviets make formal proposition on their initiative, if they will not we see no harm and some advantages in plan to have four governments send joint note to President Security Council announcing agreement. Such note would not be sent until agreement reached on dates, on nature of blockade restrictions to be raised, and agenda.

Regret misunderstandings end of last week complicated attempt to secure three power agreement. Berlin delivery of three ministers’ message3 to Germans and favorable developments in Germany now remove Bevin’s main worries about proposed next approach to Malik. I hope he will therefore urgently instruct Cadogan regarding text of proposed statement to be read to Malik by Jessup. Hope he will agree to Jessup’s arranging today to see Malik Wednesday by which time any desired revision of text of statement could be agreed.

I attach greatest importance to maintaining our tripartite unity so happily achieved in Washington. Further delay likely to be interpreted by Russians as revealing discord or weakness. Also believe if CFM to be held it should come not later than May 23 so that it will be finished with either agreement or disagreement by middle of June to give us clear picture for proceeding in Germany. We must leave time for full discussions among the three of us regarding positions to be taken in CFM before meeting takes place.

[Page 730]

For your background and for use with Bevin if appropriate, British Embassy here and in Paris seems to have given erroneous impression that Schuman and I fully agreed with Bevin’s telegram to Cadogan of April 214 regarding timing of next steps in JessupMalik talks. This misunderstanding has now been removed. Foregoing position is understood to be in full agreement with French views.

Following is text of proposed statement to be read to Malik by Jessup incorporating changes in paragraphs six and eight suggested by Schuman and us:5

[ Acheson ]
  1. The text of this message, sent to London as telegram 1394, was not found in Department of State files; however, another copy of the draft with minor textual differences bears the handwritten interpolation “Sent at 11:00 AM April 25, 1949.” (CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 140: Malik Conversations, 1949)
  2. Under reference here is the draft statement, p. 720.
  3. Under reference here is the message of the Foreign Ministers, April 8, p. 186. Regarding delivery of the message to the Bonn Parliamentary Council on April 22, see editorial note, p. 248.
  4. Not printed; in it Bevin had stressed the need for agreement between the Military Governors and the Parliamentary Council before any further move was made with regard to the JessupMalik talks. (CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 140: Malik Conversations, 1949)
  5. The text of this proposed statement was not included in the draft telegram. See draft of a possible statement to be cleared with the British and French and then read to Malik, p. 720, as amended by the memorandum of conversation April 20, p. 724.