396.1 LO/5–1250: Telegram

The United States Delegation at the Tripartite Foreign Ministers Meeting to the Acting Secretary of State


Secto 251. Three Foreign Ministers met afternoon of May 13 with Foreign Ministers of Benelux countries to inform concerning discussions on Germany.

Benelux Foreign Ministers were given copies of communiqué on Germany1 to be issued and asked if they had questions. Stikker of Netherlands raised three questions. (1) He wondered whether Germany will not only enjoy rights but will also share burdens as she re-enters community of nations. Strong feeling in his own Parliament in favor of Germany’s remilitarization. He himself thinks remilitarization premature but believes Germany should share in defense burdens through supply of materials. (2) He noted statement that Germany would be liberated from controls when she had re-entered community of free peoples. He wondered which controls were to be relinquished. (3) He noted agreement to set up study group and he inquired whether other nations would also be represented in any way.

Bevin replied very briefly. (1) It is our general view that it is premature to rearm Germany, though this may be reconsidered after Germany shows evidences of her cooperative attitude. He referred to fact that Germany now pays some 300 million pounds per year in occupation costs which represents a share of defense burden. (2) Bevin gave no reply to Stikker’s second question. (3) He gave assurance that we intend to continue to work in close collaboration with Benelux on German questions. Acheson gave similar assurances.

Van Zeeland stressed the importance Belgium attaches to being closely associated with work of study group. He referred particularly to Belgium’s interest in review occupation statute since some powers might be withdrawn from HICOM and delegated to other international bodies of which Belgium a member. He referred also to Belgian interest in termination of state of war. He wanted reference in communiqué to agreement on conditions necessary for German unity and asked what those conditions are.

Bevin replied that there was agreement on conditions but not for publication.2 He said copy of agreed paper would be furnished to Benelux Ministers.

At Bevin’s invitation, Acheson spoke of importance attached to solving Berlin’s unemployment problem. He solicited Benelux help in encouragement of purchases in Berlin. We expect to improve air [Page 1057] delivery service. French already have purchasing mission in Berlin and we hoped Benelux would make similar efforts. Stikker and Van Zeeland indicated willingness to give support, particularly if air transport could be improved to give greater assurance of unimpeded delivery service.

Stikker referred to agenda items not covered in communiqué and asked what decisions reached. He mentioned steel level, IAR French proposal on nationalization of property, East-West trade.

Bevin summarized decisions as follows: (1) HICOM is to study steel level in relation to economic situation in Germany (fact of this study to remain confidential) and to inform Federal Republic no modification of steel level contemplated for the moment. (2) Functions of IAR being studied. (3) Previous decision regarding French proposal on nationalization of property stands. (4) No new decision on East-West trade.3

Van Zeeland welcomed study by HICOM of steel level and asked Benelux be given opportunity to express points of view before decisions finalized. This was agreed by three Foreign Ministers.

Van Zeeland then presented Belgian request that Federal Republic be authorized to negotiate with Belgium concerning those frontier areas provisionally allocated to Belgium 1949 but not occupied by Belgium.4 He stressed belief such negotiations entirely in spirit our policy toward Germany and would conduce to freely accepted settlement of frontier questions. He suggested no Allied observers be present during negotiations but final results would be submitted to occupation powers for approval.

Bevin and Acheson asked time to reflect on request. Schuman stated he would withhold opinion in interest of unanimity.

Sent Department Secto 251, repeated Paris 844, Frankfort 230.

  1. For the text of the Foreign Ministers communiqué on Germany, released to the press on May 14, see Department of State Bulletin, May 22, 1950, pp. 787–788.
  2. Under reference here is the annex to MIN/TRI/P/13, p. 1086.
  3. Under reference here are MIN/TRI/P/15 Final, 18 Final, 17, and 16, none printed (Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: CF 20).
  4. For documentation on the frontier rectifications of the West German border in the spring of 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. iii, pp. 436 ff.