CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 152: Pre Mins 1–5

United States Delegation Minutes, First Session, Preliminary Conversations for the September Foreign Ministers Meetings, Washington, August 29, 1950, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.1


Delegations: British: Burrows, Graves, Watson, Greenhill, Marten, Jellicoe, Boyd2
French: Daridan, de Margerie, Millet, Fequant3
United States: Ambassador Jessup, Yost, Raynor, O’Shaughnessy, Jackson, Schwinn, Laukhuff, Whitman, Ainsworth, McSweeney (Recorder)4

Ambassador Jessup welcomed the British and French delegations and pointed out that the objective of the preliminary meetings is to determine points of agreement and points which will require consideration by the Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Yost assumed Chairmanship of the meeting. He suggested that the delegations make a brief report on each topic to the Foreign Ministers and that there be no International minutes. The British and French agreed. Mr. Yost observed that most of the subjects under discussion are subject to such rapid changes in the present fluid situation that it is difficult to put up firm governmental positions at this stage. Therefore the United States delegation hopes to forward tentative suggestions for discussion and, in the light of the comments of the other delegations and other factors, would hope to approach firmer positions before the Ministers meeting.

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As a result of the inability of Mr. Graves of the British delegation to be present this afternoon, consideration of the Far Eastern problems will be put off until Wednesday, August 30.

The British delegation proposed inclusion of the migration problem in the agenda. The French stated they have no instructions in this matter and inquired if the British want discussion in the ministerial or preparatory meetings or both. Mr. Yost read the recommendations included in the U.S. paper.5 It was agreed to hold the matter until the end of these discussions. The French will request instructions.

The French raised the question of putting over to the ministerial meetings all of the Items under IV and VII. The UK and US thought some discussion, although not necessarily conclusive, would be helpful and the French agreed.

The French stated that the Berlin question also could be put over for the ministerial discussions and the others agreed.

Agenda Item I—Consideration of United Nations Problems Within the Context of Recent Events

Since these questions are under discussion in New York, the US suggests that there is no need to have discussion by this group. It was stated that the New York group has decided to have a third meeting on Wednesday, September 6, to draw up a final report. It was agreed to attempt to advance the date of this third New York meeting.6

Agenda Item II—North Atlantic Treaty Consideration (including Turkey and Greece)

The US mentioned that since the NAT Deputies are now meeting much the same situation exists with regard to this Item. The UK suggested that it might be helpful to exchange views with regard to Greece and Turkey at this meeting. The US stated that the Deputies had not given the matter consideration yet but may meet again in [Page 1135] New York perhaps concurrently with the Foreign Ministers. The US would hope to discuss Greece and Turkey under Item VII, including alternatives to the suggestion of inclusion of Greece and Turkey in the NAT. The French asked if Greece and Turkey would be discussed only after the Deputies give their opinion. The UK felt concurrent discussion by the Deputies at this meeting would be helpful and that it is hoped to have the Deputies’ views for the Ministers meeting.

Agenda Item III—Consideration of Such Problems Related to Germany, etc.

The US stated that much the same situation applies to this Item as well, since a plenary meeting of the ISG is taking place today.7 The ISG is making good progress and might have a report by the end of the week. In reply to a French query, the US stated that the ISG may be expected to give opinions with regard to the Occupation Statute, the termination of war, and the status of the Federal Republic.

Neither the French, the US, nor UK had any other German problems for discussion at this time. The US and French reserved the right to bring up any such problems later if necessary.

Agenda Item IV—Exchange of Views on Policy Towards the Soviet Union in the Light of Recent Developments, etc.

Mr. Burrows made the UK presentation which he described as an attempt at an analysis of the main factors of Soviet intentions and possible ways of Soviet implementation of those intentions plus rather general recommendations on the way the West should react. The general consideration of the UK’s position is that the Soviet Union will attempt to avoid world war but may risk local aggression by proxy (as in Korea) and exploit local superiority. The North Korean attack was a limited operation designed to reduce Western influence in the Far East and secondarily to commit Western forces in relatively non-vital areas. The reaction of the US and UN was unexpected and the Soviet government is probably still considering the new situation without having yet arrived at any firm conclusion.

UK sees the following courses open to the Soviet Union; (1) Cooperation to end the Korean hostilities (this is considered unlikely), (2) Localize the Korean conflict and prolong UN commitment there (in the event of either (1) or (2), the Soviet Union may increase pressure in other weak spots by means not involving Soviet armed forces with the objectives of diverting attention from Korea and committing UN forces in small lots throughout the world), (3) The conclusion [Page 1136] that major conflict is inevitable (the UK believes this unlikely at this time).

How should the West react? (1) One Soviet objective is to seek areas of disagreement among the Western powers or between Western countries and Free Asian governments. We should attempt to reduce the possibilities for such Soviet exploitation. (2) It is essential that unity of purpose of the UN in Asia and elsewhere be maintained at its highest point, not only seeking to avoid disagreements which will open gaps for Soviet exploitation but looking for similar opportunities in the Soviet sphere (for example, between the USSR and other communist countries) for Western exploitation. Western propaganda must be improved, emphasizing our military strength and exposing the Soviet “peace” drive, communist pretentions to social progress and espousal of Asian nationalism. (3) We must bring before the Western peoples a realization of the objectives of the conflict and a realization of the need to carry increased military and financial burdens, attuning Western psychology to the likelihood of continued “intensified cold war”. (4) Particular effort must be given to avoiding duplication of military and economic efforts and agreement must be reached on the forms of organization most efficient to implement the agreed objectives.

Agreement by the Foreign Ministers on these principles should lead to fruitful activity through other channels, including the NAT and normal diplomatic channels. This might include activity in the following fields (1) the number of troops in Europe, (2) employment of German and Italian resources, (3) the association of other countries, particularly the Mediterranean area, in our defense plans.

The French agreed that the Soviet Union does not desire general war at this time. It is most necessary that we increase Western strength, at the same time avoiding any step which would provoke the Soviet Union and lead them to embark on a program of general warfare. The Soviet Union will continue to probe for weak spots, perhaps provoking new aggressions. The French government has been coping with indirect aggression in Southeast Asia for a number of years and believes that this situation is likely to continue.

The West must first be rearmed to a point of effective resistance, now lacking, and definite proposals have been made by the French government of a military and economic nature. Resources must be pooled to achieve the means of effective resistance in the most economical way. The West must not miss any opportunity to counter any Soviet aggression, at the same time preparing for potential further aggressions particularly in Southeast Asia.

The US expressed its agreement with most portions of the British statement agreeing that the Soviet Union probably does not want general [Page 1137] war at this time. The Korean aggression was planned by the USSR to improve the strategic position of the Soviet Union and to lessen Western influence in Asia. The Soviet Government was surprised by Western reaction in Korea and must be considering how it should react to the new situation. Korea may make them more cautious in the immediate future but they must have in mind that our position in a few years will be considerably better and that they might therefore be more justified in taking serious risks in the near future than later. We must take no steps to provoke war at any time and must be particularly careful while we are still relatively weak. On the other hand, we anticipate further pressures by indirect aggression and we must react effectively, continuing to maintain unity in the free world and confidence on the part of the individual countries that the Soviet Union will not be allowed to pick them off one by one.

The US agrees that it is important to eliminate disagreements among the free nations and this should be one of the chief benefits of the Foreign Ministers’ meetings in September. Most of the danger spots in the world are covered in the agenda with the possible omission of Yugoslavia which has already been discussed fully by the three governments, whose policies are in general accord on this subject.

Propaganda—The US views were presented by Mr. Schwinn who stated that the good psychological reaction to Korea suggests the need for coordinating the propaganda activities of the three governments even more.8 Propaganda must carry a heavy load in the next few months since decisive actions are unlikely. It was emphasized that coordination of propaganda does not mean that the propaganda of the three countries should be combined but rather that each government should follow parallel lines to achieve common objectives. NATO information activities should be initiated serving as a central point for the stimulation of independent national activities. No “Deminform” is intended but general propaganda increase is desirable. The US is increasing its activities, including facilities and personnel and other countries should likewise increase their activities. The High Commissioners in Germany should review the propaganda needs there initiating joint psychological activities, which will be important this winter.

The French said they had no specific ideas to put forth, that the US proposals would be of interest to the French government.

UK indicated its agreement emphasizing that coordination should not mean combination. It was pointed out that advance notice of intent [Page 1138] to employ increased political propaganda lessens the effect of the propaganda itself. NATO should stimulate propaganda activities but should not advertise its intent. The UK agrees on the necessity for more review and coordination in Germany but this must be achieved with a minimum of publicity. German public opinion may be of critical importance in the next few years. It was emphasized that the employment of local people for the dissemination of propaganda ideas is of great importance in the areas where propaganda by “whites” is looked upon with suspicion. Consideration should be given to obtaining general agreement on the means of destroying Soviet myths. Belief in Soviet “peace” is now melting as a result of the Korean aggression. In Asia it is especially necessary to destroy the myth that communism is the friend of nationalism.

The US suggested that the Foreign Ministers need not give much attention to this item since general agreement exists, but the matter should be put up to them to emphasize the great importance of intensifying propaganda activities, as agreed last Spring, and of more coordination to meet the difficult problems which are arising (for example, treatment of the relationship between the USSR, and North Korean aggression).

The British suggested that in formulating a proposal for the Foreign Ministers it would be desirable to point up the fact that the Soviet Union is less and less interested in attacking governmental relations and is directed now to subversion of peoples. It is important to line up the people rather than the governments.

The US suggested that recommendations to the Foreign Ministers should include a few principle themes of propaganda.

Agenda Item VConsideration of Western European Problems Such As EastWest Trade, etc.9

The US position on East–West Trade was presented by Mr. Whitman. He pointed out that earlier discussions have not been conclusive and that lower-level Paris discussions have not been satisfactory to the US. The differences between the governments are obviously differences of principle which must be resolved if the Paris group is to make more progress. The background contained in the position paper10 was presented to the French and British and statistical tables were distributed, the purpose of which was to buttress the US contention [Page 1139] that acceptance of the US proposals actually would have less effect on the economies of Western European countries than has some times been contended.11 It was emphasized that the US proposals do not represent an expansion of the list of items which it originally proposed for international control and that acceptance of the proposals would not lead to a general embargo or constitute economic warfare. Mention was made of the concentration in the Soviet economy on military production, the fact that no long term hope should be placed in East–West Trade since the Soviet Union controls the trade of all orbit countries and could impose an eventual cutoff, and the fact that the expansion of defense efforts in the West will help to absorb much of the industrial activity which would otherwise be directed to exports outside Western Europe. A paper was distributed to the French and British containing the three statements of broad principle contained in Section I of the Recommendations of the position paper and mention was made that if the three Foreign Ministers could agree on these principles, action would be expected in Paris as outlined in Section II of the Recommendations of the position paper.12

The UK delegation stated it is not prepared to negotiate this matter in the preliminary talks. It recognizes the differences in view and believes that many Western European countries share the British view. The UK agrees that the subject be discussed by the Foreign [Page 1140] Ministers. It is the belief of the UK delegation that the UK government is not disposed to move from its earlier position. The most that the UK delegation can do at the preliminary talks is to note the US view, inform the Foreign Office and help draw up a statement of the differing points of view. To this end the British view is set forth as follows. The UK appreciates the need of depriving the Soviet Union of items of “direct military value” even at the expense of its own economy. In considering items which are less definitely classifiable, attention must be given to (1) the general advantage to the Soviet Union, and (2) the importance to the UK of obtaining certain materials from the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. The UK economy has been just kept afloat since the war and is only now beginning to make progress. Marginal trade is thus important and the fact that the items considered in the American exposition represent a small percentage of trade is not a sufficient argument. UK economic recovery is vital in the general question of East–West relative strengths. Without the progress made to date the UK could not have assumed added military burdens which will require diversion of effort and thus likely worsen the UK’s general trade position.

The UK feels that its present position provides great flexibility. Additional items on the embargo or limitation lists can be added when special circumstances require (as was shown in recent Far Eastern developments).

The UK continues to feel that it is difficult to draw the line between the US proposals and economic warfare.

The actual amounts of specific goods imported by the UK from Eastern Europe, and not the percentages of these imports to total imports are important. Also important is the question of the cost of obtaining the goods elsewhere or alternatively the impact on the UK economy of doing without the goods in question. The UK questions the means which would be used to limit the size of exports on the 1b list. The UK asked if Point (b) of the Recommendations is intended to cover the items presently on the 1b list since it is felt that Mr. Bevin would be influenced if that were the case. The UK delegation felt that the wording of Recommendations b [(a)?] could be considered to permit the limitation of the shipment of articles of all sorts to Eastern Europe. The UK delegation also pointed out with regard to Recommendation C that the UK is interested not in exports but in imports.

The French delegation stated it has received no instructions, but there are differences of view between the French and US governments. The US proposal will be transmitted to Paris with the request for instructions.

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The US delegation emphasized that present developments added urgency to the need for further development of East–West Trade controls. It was re-emphasized that the proposals do not constitute embargo or economic warfare but only a limitation program serious consideration of which is requested.

The US stated that the US government is considering suggestions with regard to Austria which might be in a definite form in a day or two. It was requested that discussion of the Austrian question therefore be deferred to the end of the discussions.13

  1. Attached to the source text was a cover sheet, not printed, which indicated that the series designator for these minutes was SFM Pre 1.
  2. Bernard A. B. Burrows and Hubert A. Graves, Counselors; John H. A. Watson, Denis A. Greenhill, Francis W. Marten, John G. Boyd, and Earl Jellicoe, First Secretaries at the British Embassy in Washington.
  3. Jean Daridan, Minister Counselor; Christian de Margerie and Pierre Millet, Counselors; Albert Fequant, Second Secretary, French Embassy in Washington.
  4. Philip C. Jessup, United States Ambassador at Large; Charles C. Yost, Director of the Office of Eastern European Affairs; G. Hayden Raynor, United Nations Advisor of the Bureau of European Affairs; Elim O’Shaughnessy, Officer in Charge of French-Iberian Affairs; Wayne G. Jackson, Officer in Charge of United Kingdom and Ireland Affairs; Walter K. Schwinn, Acting Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs; Perry Laukhuff, Director of the Office of German Political Affairs; Roswell H. Whitman, Officer in Charge of Economic Affairs in the Office of Western European Affairs; and H. Gardner Ainsworth, Officer in Charge of Economic Programs in the Foreign Service Institute.
  5. The recommendations in SFM D–6/3, dated August 29, not printed, read:

    • “1. The three Ministers should formally adopt the report of the Tripartite Committee of Experts on Migration.
    • “2. In adopting the report they should state that they will (a) maintain a continuing interest in the problem, (b) consider as occasion arises how they can be helpful in encouraging emigration from the affected areas, and (c) designate representatives who win be responsible for continuing and making effective tripartite cooperation in this field.
    • “3. The migration item should have a place on the agenda of the Foreign Ministers’ meeting but should, if possible, be disposed of in the preliminary discussions.”

    A copy of the Tripartite Committee’s report, designated Document 16 (Attachment), September 25, is in CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 152: SFM Documents 1–40; copies of SFM D–6/3 and a brief of SFM D–6/3 are in ibid., SFM Documents.

  6. For documentation on the preliminary discussions in New York, see pp. 1108 ff.
  7. Documentation on the sixth plenary meeting of the ISG is scheduled for publication in volume iv.
  8. Copies of SFM D–5b, dated August 26, not printed, “Psychological Objectives: The Need for Policy Coordination,” a revised paper of the same title, SFM D–5c, dated August 28, and two briefs of the latter, none printed, are in CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 152: SFM Documents.
  9. Documentation on East-West trade, including material on the activities of the Advisory Group on trade controls is scheduled for publication in volume iv.
  10. Presumably this is a reference to SFM D–6b, dated August 26, not printed, which is the third paper in the SFM D–6 series. Copies of SFM D–6, August 16; SFM D–6a, August 23; SFM D–6b; and various briefing materials for the use of Secretary Acheson are in CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 152: SFM Documents.
  11. Copies of the three tables under reference here are contained in CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 152: SFM Documents.
  12. The recommendations of SFM D–6b read:

    i. The Secretary should review the existing situation and the conflicting points of view … using such of the United States argument as seems necessary to obtain British and French agreement on the following statement of broad principle:

    • “(a) The mutual security interest of the Western allies in the present world situation requires the general adoption of a vigorous, uniform and effective export control program which will contribute to the strengthening of the West relative to the East not only by limiting the short-term striking power of the Soviet Bloc but also by retarding the development of its war potential in the longer terms.
    • “(b) An effective export control program therefore requires that there be adequate restrictions not only on the export of items of direct military significance (e. g., military end products and materials or equipment needed to produce them) but also on the export of items which would substantially contribute to the building up of the basic industrial potential which is needed to prosecute a general war.
    • “(c) To attain these objectives, each country should be prepared to make the necessary economic sacrifices and to cooperate with other Western partners to reduce them (e. g., by diverting strategic exports to the expanding western military production programs).

    ii. If the Secretary obtains British and French agreement with the propositions just stated, he should point out that it logically follows from this agreement that our three Governments will now proceed, in future export control negotiations at Paris, to reintroduce and reexamine the items on the US 1–b List (more than half of the total) which have thus far been rejected for international control, and of course, that we will promptly proceed to bring under effective control many other 1–b items (List iii) which are now uncontrolled awaiting further consideration.”

  13. In telegram 1104, August 29, to London (repeated to Paris and Frankfort), not printed, the Department of State summarized the proceedings of this first session and reported “First day’s discussions non-committal and exploratory with no evidence of unexpected positions or suggestions as yet.” (396.1–NE/8–2950)