The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Czechoslovakia 1
230. Recd from Brit Emb here copy of Dixon’s Desp urtel 364 Mar 132 and can now give more definite view on his proposal. Favorably [Page 541] impressed by Dixon’s general line of argument concurring prospect major trial with attack against principal fon missions, advantage of taking preventive action if possible, and desirability tripartite approach.
We feel, however, substantive approach to Czech Govt shld be somewhat different from that envisaged in Brit desp so as to avoid specific reference to impending trial and too explicit threat of “unforeseeable consequences”. Accepting Dixon’s analysis of situation and taking into acct ur suggestions Embtel 423 Mar 24,3 we propose fol démarche unless you see objection.
New admin in FonOff represented in replacement Clementis by Siroky wld be utilized as point of departure for attempt at comprehensive and forthright survey state of relations between US and Czech Govts. Appointment wld be obtained with Fon Min soonest for this purpose.
Conversation with Siroky might begin, after suitable exchange of courtesies on assumption of his new duties, with expression our feeling this appropriate time to take stock together of character future relations US and Czech. He wld appreciate this subject must be matter of concern to both Govts in view developments in Bui and Hun (discreet reference might be made here to inclusion point 6 in Secy’s Berkeley speech Mar 134). He was doubtless keenly aware, as were we, of uncertainty which seemed to govern our day to day relations. In spite differences in our two systems of govt we wld like for our part to explore whether some more stable basis of dipl contact possible. With this in mind we had previously attempted to suggest area of [Page 542] agreement where current dipl problems between two govts might be solved successfully and had given assurances re conduct Emb personnel (ur 423 Mar 24). If, on part Czech Govt, it cld be demonstrated long accepted standards internatl intercourse wld be observed we believed basis existed for stabilization our dipl relationship.
It seemed clear Czech Govt derived certain advantages from maintenance dipl relations, particularly through activities Czech ConGen in New York and work of Mil Permit Office in Prague. We hoped no circumstances wld arise to change this situation and we wld be reluctant to take any step leading to such changes. We were interested in seeing removed the factors of instability in our mutual dipl relationship but if incidents shld occur not in conformity with accepted dipl standards and in disregard Amer rights, he wld understand we wld be obliged to act in our own protection even if this shld seriously affect certain aspects dipl relations between two govts (this point wld be made in terms of aspects our relations in order to avoid any suggestion possible break).
If Czech Govt cld view the problem in this perspective and so give evidence its good faith by avoiding unfounded charges against Amercits and Amer Emb we saw possibility of achieving more normal dipl situation to our mutual advantage. US followed no set pattern of dealing with the states East Europe and wld be guided in its policy by concrete behavior of each toward US. We felt obliged to stress these considerations as he took charge of Min for much wld depend during months ahead on intentions toward Amercits and Amer Emb revealed by Min and other agencies Czech Govt as to whether stable relations cld be achieved or whether serious prejudice to many aspects those relations wld result.
You may present this suggestion to Brit and Fr Ambs to learn if their Govts wld care to make separate but parallel approaches this general type which may obviate certain objections Brit FonOff to Dixon’s original proposal (ur 400 Mar 215). We consider tripartite action in matter offers more hope of making some impression on Czech Govt and weakness of West position in satellites to date has been absence in general such concerted efforts in protection our missions. If tripartite course not possible you may inform Brit and Fr we deem it necessary to act along foregoing lines even if unilaterally.
If our representations shld have no effect in deterring Czechs from some dramatic step against us then we shall probably be forced to take retaliatory measure such as closing consulates here, administrative action to reduce Czech imports US, (for example, holding up Consular invoices) or possible denial mil permits. At same time we wld make every effort to avoid total collapse of relations. This course might at least put Czech Govt on notice in very general terms of risks involved [Page 543] in reckless attack on Emb. Result might determine whether Czech Govt has some slight degree freedom of action in dealing with West Govts or whether it is already launched on externally prescribed course of provocation likely to end eventually in complete break.
- Repeated to London as 1400, to Paris as 1353, and to Moscow as 253.↩
- Not printed. It reported that British Ambassador Dixon had suggested to his Foreign Office that the Western powers take some “prophylactic action” to forestall further Czechoslovak attacks on Western missions instead of waiting like “sitting ducks” for probable future attacks. Dixon proposed that the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry be advised that the United States, the United Kingdom, and France had no intention of allowing themselves to be maligned by additional “prepared confessions,” and that another spy trial would have “unforeseen consequences” for Czechoslovak relations with the West. (649.00/3–1350) Telegrams 400, March 21, from Praha, and 1665, March 28, from London, neither printed, indicated that the British Foreign Office was initially inclined to disapprove Dixon’s proposals, but telegram 2034, April 14, from London, not printed, reported that Dixon had been authorized to act at his discretion along the lines of his proposal, but the Foreign Office preferred that the United States and the United Kingdom each proceed in its own way in the matter (649.00/3–2150, 649.00/3–2850, and 649.00/4–1450). Telegram 263, April 10, to Praha, not printed, stated that the Department of State had been informed by the French Embassy that the French Foreign Ministry disapproved of parallel action by the French Ambassador in Czechoslovakia along the lines of Ambassador Briggs’ pending approach to Foreign Minister Široký. The French were apparently deterred from such action by the desire not to jeopardize the outcome of current negotiations with the Czechoslovak Government of a number of issues including the question of compensation for nationalized property. (649.00/4–550)↩
- Not printed. In it Ambassador Briggs reviewed the various lines of conduct which might be undertaken vis-à-vis the Czechoslovak Government: (1) no action, but await events; (2) the action proposed by British Ambassador Dixon; (3) a retaliatory move without prior announcement or discussion; (4) a unilateral American démarche to Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Široký recapitulating previous understandings of the modalities of American-Czechoslovak relations and asking the purpose of the current Czechoslovak campaign of hostility toward the United States. (649.00/3–2450)↩
- The reference here is to an address on the tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States made by Secretary of State Acheson at the University of California at Berkeley, on March 16, 1950; for the text, see Department of State Bulletin, March 27, 1950, pp. 473–478. Point 6 of the address commented upon the mistreatment of American official diplomatic representatives and urged Soviet leaders to cooperate with the United States to the end that official representatives of all countries would be treated everywhere with decency and respect.↩
- Not printed, but see footnote 2, above.↩