740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–1549

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

top secret

Participants: Ambassador Yakov A. Malik, USSR Delegation
Dr. Philip C. Jessup, U.S. Ambassador at Large

I called on Malik this afternoon at four-thirty, our appointment having been delayed by the prolongation of the meeting of the General Committee which Malik was attending at Flushing Meadows.1

Malik opened the conversation by inquiring what the French and British thought about the idea of the communiqué which he had suggested in our last meeting. I told him that as I had indicated the last time, the French and British representatives were ready to meet with us to discuss details if Mr. Vishinsky had confirmed Malik’s understanding that agreement had been reached on the principal points. Malik replied that the last time we met we had reached the conclusion that we were in agreement on the main points including the question of the Western German Government. He said we must now come to details. What did I think of beginning the session of the CFM between the 10th and 14th of June. I replied that as I had told him the last time and as I had previously indicated to him, for instance on April 5, when we came to the discussion of these details I thought we should ask Cadogan and Chauvel to join us. I said, however, that I wondered why he had mentioned the date of June 10–14 as the beginning of the CFM after I had indicated to him in the statement which I had read last time that the Foreign Ministers of the three powers would find it convenient to return to their duties at home by the end of the second week of June.

[Page 738]

Malik then said that the fact that he had begun with a reference to the details showed that Vishinsky had agreed with the conclusions he had drawn regarding our being in agreement on the main points. He said that he did have in mind the question of the participation of Cadogan and Chauvel in our further talks but he thought it would be more convenient for him and me to reach some agreement to facilitate and expedite the meeting of the four when it took place. He said that if we could agree on the date for the CFM and the date for the removal of the restrictions, bearing in mind that all restrictions imposed after a certain date were the ones to be removed, it would be useful for us to exchange informal views also on the question of the agenda. Thereafter, we could meet with Cadogan and Chauvel. He said he had not mentioned the place of the meeting but that this was so to speak a constitutional question. It depended on where the regular meeting was to take place. This place was Paris and no special discussion of this was necessary. If I agreed with Malik’s point of view, he thought that we could exchange views on the other points bearing in mind that we would then need to reach agreement with Cadogan and Chauvel.

I said that I had thought in coming to see him today that I would merely receive from him Vishinsky’s view concerning the conclusion which Malik had reached in our last talk. This was the impression I had from the conclusion of our last conversation. I was, therefore, not prepared today to discuss the details. I said that I did not think a further conference including four people would necessarily be very long. I pointed out that we had kept the British and French informed concerning the talks at each stage. However, I would be glad to get his views in order that we and the French and British could consider them. As for his reference to the meeting place, I agreed with his view that this was determined by the regular order of procedure.

Malik said that at our last meeting he had made no final suggestions because he had no information on concrete dates since there had hitherto been a question of coming to an “arrangement” on general questions. He said he now did have the information and it would be useful for us to discuss the details now. If I could not do so, I could tell Cadogan and Chauvel what he had to say. When I had ascertained their views, I could talk to him again. If this was satisfactory to me, he was prepared to state his concrete proposals. He said that I was here in my own country and it was not difficult for me to reach conclusions about his suggestions and that he thought the same was true of Cadogan and Chauvel and that our conclusions could be reached without much delay and that then the four of us could meet and could [Page 739] make the final agreement. I said that I wished to understand exactly what he had in mind, namely, that he would state his propositions, that I would pass them on to Cadogan and Chauvel and that then the four of us would meet to reach agreement. I said that this was satisfactory on the understanding that I might not be able to comment on his concrete proposals this afternoon.

Malik said that the first part of my understanding was correct. As to the second part, he thought it would be more convenient for him if I could communicate my views on his suggestion and if possible the views of Cadogan and Chauvel in order to have one more exchange of informal conversations before the four of us met. Any other procedure, Malik said, would put him at a disadvantage since he would be unprepared for a meeting of the four. I replied that I still thought it was better to have the four of us meet on the next occasion. I would have to consult my government and them. However, I would be glad to hear his concrete proposals and report. Perhaps when he had stated his positions, it would be possible for us to see whether they suggest any difficulties requiring further exploration, but in any case, I still thought that it would be more convenient to have the next meeting with the others present.

Malik said he understood my position and took my desires into account. However, he thought we should be guided by the fact that we two could come to a preliminary arrangement on the details and thus, “without any unnecessary procrastination”, agree on the details and give a definite form to our agreement. A meeting of the four might give our talks a more official character and if the exchange of views among the four dragged out, it might create an undesirable impression on the public. He continued that the details to be discussed were the date of the meeting of the CFM, the date of the lifting of the restrictions and the date which would identify the time at which the restrictions had been introduced. In addition, there was the question of an approximate text of a communiqué. He would prefer to have my views first in preparation for the meeting of the four.

I suggested that he should go ahead and tell me his views. I said I could report them and see if there was any real difficulty involved or whether it was merely a question of detail. If there were no real difficulties, his objection to a meeting of the four did not apply. There was no reason now why the further conversations should not be somewhat more official. Only after I knew his views and had reported them would it be possible for me to tell whether conversations among the four of us would be likely to drag which I understood to be his [Page 740] main objection to enlarging the conversations. I said that in my view it was definitely desirable that they should be included in the discussion of the details and not merely brought in for a formal ceremony of signing an agreement. I said their participation would facilitate rather than retard final agreement on details.

Malik said he proceeded from a consideration only of “practical convenience”. Suppose that the four met tomorrow or tonight. If he and I had not previously reached some agreement, our counterproposals might show a great variance. If we were not prepared to make an immediate reply, we would have to meet again. Malik would then have to ask for further instructions and this would lead to another meeting. He said he was not proceeding from any consideration of wanting to relegate Cadogan and Chauvel to the role of mere signers of an agreement. He then said that he was prepared to state his considerations. At this point he referred to a typewritten memorandum. His first point was that he proposed that the CFM should begin in Paris some date between the tenth and fourteenth of June 1949. The second point was that the mutual restrictions on transport, communications and trade between Berlin and the Western Zones, and between the Eastern and Western Zones should be removed simultaneously, one week before the session of the CFM. On the Soviet side, all restrictions introduced after the 30th of March should be removed; the date of March 30 was used since no Soviet restrictions had been introduced before that date. Third, he said that they considered it necessary to consider at the CFM questions regarding Germany including the question of currency in Berlin. Fourth, the following draft communiqué is proposed, as he had previously suggested in a preliminary way. He had now prepared a text and was therefore able to be more precise. He said that if he and I could agree on the four foregoing points we could then meet with the others and agree in a formal manner on the communiqué. The interpreter then read slowly while I copied down the following text:

“The four governments [of Great Britain, France, the USSR and the U.S.]2 have agreed that:

All restrictions on transport, communications and trade introduced on the Soviet side since March 28, 1948, between Berlin and the Western Zones, and between the Eastern Zone and the Western Zones, shall be removed from such-and-such a date of such-and-such month, and all restrictions on transport, communications and trade between Berlin and the Western Zone, and between the Eastern Zone and the Western Zone introduced by Great Britain, the U.S. and France shall be removed from the same day of the same month.
On such-and-such a day of such-and-such month, the Council of Foreign Ministers shall be called to consider questions relating to Germany, including the question of currency in Berlin.”3

I said that I was struck by the fact that the date of March 30 in his text applied only to the introduction of the Soviet measures and not to the introduction of the measures of the three Western Governments. I did not know why he did not make the date equally applicable to the Western restrictions. Malik interrupted to say that the text should be corrected from March 28 to March 30 since no Soviet restrictions had been imposed before the 30th. In answer to my question, he said that the date applied only to restrictions on the Soviet side bearing in mind that they had imposed none before March 30. As for the Western powers, it was known that the introduction of the currency measures had lead to the Soviet restrictions and that then the counter-restrictions of the Western powers were introduced on several dates after March 30. He did not know of any restrictions imposed before March 30, but wished them all removed whenever they were imposed. It appeared to me that he was somewhat confused in his argument and I replied that I also wanted all restrictions removed whenever they were imposed but still did not understand why he made the distinction of suggesting a date in regard to the Soviet restrictions but not in regard to the restrictions of the Western powers. Malik replied that this was because before March 30 none was imposed on the Soviet side and all imposed after that date were to be removed as we agreed. I said that exactly the same reasoning applied to the Western powers and that it was quite impossible to make the distinction which his text suggested. Malik again repeated his explanation but said that if I had any other ideas he would be glad to hear them. I said that referring first to the date of March 30, I was not able to say whether that was the correct date to use. I recalled that he had previously referred to March 28 and that I seemed to remember there was some discussion of a Soviet restriction which had been announced on March 30 but which perhaps had been imposed at midnight. It [Page 742] might be confusing to determine whether this was imposed on March 30. On the second point regarding the Western Governments’ restrictions, they were, as Malik had himself noted, counter measures taken after the Soviet restrictions had been imposed. I said the same identification date must apply to both.

Malik said that our conversation so far had shown that this preliminary exchange of views was useful. Secondly, he was prepared to hear suggestions on any previous date. He had indicated a date because I had mentioned one. Last time I had said March 1, but according to Malik’s information there was no restriction imposed before March 30, so he had mentioned March 30. He was quite prepared to discuss this and said he had no desire to “clinch” on that date. I went over the same ground again pointing out that the intention was to get all the restrictions lifted and that there was no reason to make a distinction between the date for the Soviet measures and the date for counter measures. It then appeared that this whole argument was based on an inaccuracy in his translation of paragraph 3 of the statement which I had read to him on April 27.4 In that statement we had said that “the restrictions to be removed are those imposed since March 1, 1948, on the one hand by the Government of the Soviet Union” and so forth, “and on the other hand by any one of the four powers” and so forth. In the translation the date had been made to apply only to the Soviet Union action and not to the action of the Western Governments. After we had cleared up this point, Malik agreed that he had had no special object in mind in eliminating the date applicable to the Western restrictions but thought he was merely following my formula.

I then said that there was another point in paragraph 1 of his communiqué, which I did not quite understand. In referring to the restrictions imposed by the Western powers, he had included a reference to restrictions on transport, and so forth, “between Berlin and the Western zones.” It was, of course, obvious that the Western powers had never imposed restrictions between Berlin and the Western zones. On the contrary, this was the trade they desired to keep open and which the Russians had blocked. Malik replied that he put this in in order to make the formula identical for both parties, apparently thinking there was something invidious in using a different formula for the two sets of restrictions. He noted that Berlin included the Soviet sector and that perhaps some of our restrictions applied to trade between that sector and the Western Zones.

I then returned to the question I had put earlier, namely, why he had selected the date of June 10–14 for the beginning of the CFM in view of my statement on the 27th that our ministers would find it [Page 743] convenient to be back in their homes by the end of the second week of June. Malik said there were two reasons for this. First, it was desirable to have more time to prepare for the CFM. Second, there was no assurance when the General Assembly would end; Gromyko as First Deputy heads the Soviet Delegation to the GA. In the absence of the Minister at the CFM, Gromyko would head the Ministry. Counting the probable end of the GA and the time for the trip, Gromyko should be back in Moscow by about June 1. He then asked whether I had any other suggestion for the date and said he would be glad to consider it. I merely replied that it might be useful if Gromyko would agree to end the GA earlier which led to Malik saying that they had no objection to expediting the GA but were disappointed in the results of the meeting of the General Committee this afternoon.

I then asked how he had happened upon one week as the interval between the lifting of the blockade and the meeting of the CFM; whether he attached particular importance to this exact interval. Malik said he attached no special importance to it but believed that a week would be sufficient so that by the time of the opening of the session all the restrictions would be lifted and normal conditions would be introduced. I inquired whether that meant they intended to lift the restrictions gradually. Did they think it would take more than one day to actually lift them? Malik said that they contemplated simultaneous lifting and did not intend that this should be dragged out for several days.

I said I would report his suggestions and hoped that he would agree that if the three Western Governments still think it useful to have the next meeting a meeting of 4, that he would be willing to have it so arranged. Malik said that he didn’t oppose a meeting of the 4 and had already accepted it as proper for final agreement. He said his main desire was to have my views one or two days in advance of the meeting with them. Otherwise, we would be in an unequal position since we would know his views and he would not know ours. He repeated that he was governed only by practical considerations. He said, however, that according to the proverb—“one cannot be liked by force,” if another meeting [of the two of us]5 was not wanted he could not insist upon it. I said that of course I also was interested in practical details and recognized that if we had a meeting he would need to consult regarding any counter suggestions.

Malik then asked what I thought about the agenda. I said I was not prepared to comment upon it but referred to that part of my statement of April 56 in which we had used the expression “to discuss matters [Page 744] arising out of the situation in Berlin and matters affecting Germany as a whole”. I said that I had told him in conversation that we assumed that the currency was one of the “matters arising out of the situation in Berlin”. I said I had no suggestion to make today regarding the form which the statement should take in the final agreement.

Malik then said that perhaps I would study his proposals and communicate my views either in a memorandum or through my secretary to his secretary, so that he would know my views before the four of us met on the question of the date for the CFM, the date for the lifting of the blockade and the date which would define the imposition of the restrictions as well as the text of the communiqué. In regard to the date fixing the imposition of the restrictions, he understood that I preferred to use the same date for the restrictions imposed by both sides. I said this was correct.

As I was leaving, I said that I understood that he had told the reporters that he might issue a statement after our meeting. He said this was incorrect since he had told them that he would not issue a statement either before or after. I said that because of the intense interest of the press, it might be necessary to say something. We had consistently taken the position that our talks were confidential and that we would not disclose the substance of them, but that I thought we might feel it desirable merely to say that we had had another talk and that the talks were progressing satisfactorily. Malik said he thought this would be quite all right.7

  1. Previous to this meeting Jessup had talked with Cadogan and Chauvel at noon. The French and United States positions generally coincided, but Cadogan reported a feeling in London that a firm agreement should be reached with the Soviet Union as to precisely what should be done in connection with the lifting of the blockade. Both Chauvel and Jessup argued against this procedure, stating their desire for a general formula through which Soviet intentions could be tested, and Cadogan agreed to telephone London for further instructions. The three representatives then arranged to meet at 7:30 after Jessup had talked to Malik. (Memorandum of Conversation by Jessup, April 29, not printed, 740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–1549)
  2. Brackets in the source text.
  3. On April 28 Jessup had drafted his own text of a four-power communiqué which read:

    “The Governments of France, the U.S.S.R., the United Kingdom and the United States have reached the following agreement.

    • 1. The restrictions imposed since March 1 (28), 1948, by the Government of the U.S.S.R. on communications, transportation and trade between Berlin and the Western zones of Germany will be removed on May 9, 1949.
    • 2. The restrictions imposed since March 1 (28), 1948, by the Governments of France, the United Kingdom and the United States, or any one of them, on communications, transportation and trade between the Western and Eastern zones of Germany will also be removed on May 9, 1949.
    • 3. A meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers will be convened in Paris on May 23, 1949, to consider the question of Germany and matters arising out of the situation in Berlin including the question of currency.”

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

  4. Supra.
  5. Brackets in the source text.
  6. Ante, p. 716.
  7. Jessup summarized this conversation to Cadogan and Chauvel at 7:30 as had been arranged at noon. Cadogan then read a telegram from Bevin in which the latter agreed with General Robertson that a detailed agreement must be reached on the lifting of the restrictions. Chauvel and Jessup argued against this proposal, but the French representative suggested the possibility of two dates: the first for the beginning of the lifting of restrictions and the second, the date on which restrictions would be completely removed. (Memorandum of Conversation by Jessup, not printed, April 30, 740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–1549)