Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Philip C. Jessup, Ambassador at Large

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Subject: Negotiations with the U.S.S.R.

Participants: Foreign Minister Lester B. Pearson (Canada)
Ambassador Hume Wrong (Canada)1
Mr. R. G. Riddell (Canada)2
Mr. Dean Rusk
Mr. Ernest Gross
Mr. Philip C. Jessup

One of the subjects which Mr. Pearson had put on the agenda for our informal discussions in New York Saturday and Sunday3 was “The Cold War.” The first aspect of the subject which he raised was the general problem of negotiations with them and the means by which this could be accomplished if it were desirable. The general Canadian attitude seemed to be that it would be desirable to keep on talking even though there were no great expectation of concrete results in the form of agreements. We pointed out that we had plenty of contacts and that again this was a case in which it was the Russians who did not take advantage of the opportunities to talk, e.g., in all of the organs of the UN. While admitting this, Pearson seemed to feel that from a public relations point of view we should frequently propose or initiate conversations and let the Russians have the onus of turning them down.

In this same context, we passed on to the question of the consideration of atomic energy and disarmament. Pearson felt it would be very desirable to resume talks on atomic energy. He said there had never really been an exploration of the points which Vishinsky raised last fall.4 He was not sanguine that the Russians had anything in mind, but he seemed to be reflecting Canadian Parliamentary and popular opinion in suggesting the desirability that we should not only take a fresh look at our own proposals, particularly in terms of the question of “ownership,” but that we should also find ways to continue talks with the Russians on it. We discussed the possibility of getting over the procedural deadlock by having talks among Five Powers without [Page 61] Chinese participation. Mr. Gross expressed the opinion that the Russians would be unwilling to talk without a representative of China. Mr. Rusk suggested that, instead of starting from the idea of Six Powers and then eliminating one, we might go back to the Truman–Attlee–King base5 and extend Three Power talks by inviting the French and the Russians to join us. Pearson seemed to think this might be useful. It seemed to be a general view that a beginning might be made through informal talks perhaps at a dinner, but it was my impression that the Canadians would like to resume more formal conversations with the Russians, again largely from the point of view of public relations. Pearson spoke of the question of the advantages of a general prohibition on the use of atomic bombs as against the importance of the bomb as a deterrent. He felt that with the development of Russian atomic power we should have a new look at this proposition. He said that their people in re-evaluating the evidence wondered whether it was true the Russians really had the atomic bomb. Mr. Rusk pointed out that it would be quite inadvisable to proceed on the assumption that they did not.

Philip C. Jessup
  1. Canadian Ambassador in the United States.
  2. Permanent Canadian Representative at the United Nations.
  3. April 1 and 2.
  4. In a discussion with Secretary Acheson and others in London on May 16, Pearson reiterated his concern regarding points raised by the Soviet Union at the 1949 General Assembly; for memorandum of conversation by Acheson, May 16, see p. 559.
  5. On November 15, 1945, President Truman, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, and Canadian Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King signed in Washington an Agreed Declaration proposing the establishment of a United Nations Atomic Energy Commission; for text, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1504; or 60 Stat. (pt. 2) 1479. For documentation on the November tripartite meeting and other aspects of United States policy respecting atomic energy, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. i, pp. 198.