396.1/11–650: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1

top secret   priority

2369. 1. We have given most careful consideration to problem raised by Sov request for CFM and have reached fol views which we understand are in essential agreement with preliminary views of Brit and Fr Govts.

2. Ger demilitarization and Praha Declaration are quite unacceptable as basis for Four Power talks which, if they shld be held, must not be confined to subject of Ger alone but expanded to cover other primary sources of world tension as well. We feel we shld not be hurried into making premature reply to Sov Govt but shld take all the time necessary to give problem exhaustive consideration among ourselves. Although it is important, both for reasons of world opinion and the recent UN Resolution on this subject, that we not appear to shut the door to possible future conversations,2 we believe that if such talks are agreed to it shld be only after most careful preparation. Finally, it is of utmost important that such consultative period and Four Power talks themselves, if they shld occur, are not permitted to affect solidarity of NATO nor the vigorous pursuit of its objectives.

3. Our suggested line of action is that the Sec make a press statement on Wed, Nov 8, along lines set forth at para 4 below. This is to be followed by inspired stories in press developing theme in greater detail. Subsequently three Western Govts shld consider best means of approaching problem of conversations with Sovs as well as what subjects might be discussed with them. Our present thinking is that following such preliminary groundwork among ourselves it wld be possible, in line with Syrian-Iraqi Resolution,3 to have exploratory conversations with Sov Reps at UN. If these conversations reveal any substantive change in Sov position on major world-wide issues we cld then consider procedure for further Four-Power talks. In any event before commitment to CFM we wld insist upon preparatory work in less formal body to determine agenda and sufficient indications of Sov position to be certain that in such a mtg we cld achieve useful results.

Presumably character of our reply to Sovs note will depend in part upon decision reached by our three Govts as to best procedure to be followed.

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4. SecState statement to press:

“We are of course giving careful consideration, in consultation with Fr and Brit Govts, to Sov proposal for mtg of CFM on demilitarization of Ger. We find it somewhat extraordinary that Sov Govt shld be so eager that this mtg be held promptly. The Sov Govt delayed for over five months its reply to our note of last May calling upon the Sov authorities in Ger to disband the extensive and heavily armed paramilitary forces which they have created in the Eastern Zone. The belated Sov reply completely evaded the issue.4

Furthermore, I shld like to point out that at the last CFM in the spring of 1949 five futile weeks were devoted to discussion of Ger and no progress was made in the face of Sov intransigence.5 At that same mtg, however, those essential elements of an Aust treaty, still in dispute after three years of negotiation, were agreed and it was assumed that a treaty wld be concluded very shortly. Yet during the ensuing year and a half the USSR has prevented the conclusion of that treaty by repeated introduction of new and irrelevant issues into the negotiations.6 In deciding how a further mtg of the CFM could in fact serve the interests of world peace, we must clearly consider the extent to which the decisions of the previous mtg have or have not been carried out.

Finally, I shld like to point out that Ger is not a problem which can be isolated from the context of similar areas of tension in other parts of the world. Korea has been the scene of armed aggression which, in spite of the efforts of the UN to localize and halt the conflict, is even now being given new and ominous extension. The bitter struggle in Indochina is likewise being aggravated by outside intervention. Other nations are being subjected to an increasing war of nerves which raises legitimate fears for their security.

It is for these reasons that the free world is rearming and mobilizing its strength and resources. It will continue to do so until these legitimate fears are removed. However, it is our most earnest desire that these fears be removed and we wld welcome an opportunity to lessen them through negotiation. Such negotiations, however, wld have to deal not with a single issue but with the principal issues which are now creating the threats to world peace. Such negotiations wld also have to be based upon evidence of a genuine desire and intention to reach agreements which wld remove or alleviate those threats and not merely upon a desire to exploit for propaganda purposes the longings of all peoples for peace.

We shall reply in due course to the Sov note but the issues involved are far too serious to admit of hasty treatment.”7

5. We believe it wld be helpful to Adenauer at his Wed mtg of Bundestag if Mr. Schuman found it possible upon his return to Paris to make press statement which wld convey point that although Fr [Page 906] Govt has made it clear that it believes Four Power talks might be useful, present Sov proposal does not by itself offer adequate basis and that three Govts are having to look at the whole question with utmost care. Alternatively, François Poncet might be instructed to speak in this sense directly to Adenauer.

6. Pls let us know as soon as possible Fr and Brit reaction to foregoing.8

7. We will transmit shortly our thoughts on fuller background guidance which we expect to issue to the press.

8. For McCloy. Believe you will wish to give Adenauer summary these views after coordination with Brit and Fr Govts. We will telegraph you later on this.9

  1. Repeated to Paris as 2430, Frankfort for McCloy as 3356, and Moscow as 313.
  2. Presumably a reference to the Uniting for Peace resolution adopted by the General Assembly on November 3; for documentation on this resolution, see vol. ii, pp. 303 ff.
  3. For documentation on the Syrian-Iraqi peace resolution before the United Nations General Assembly, see ibid .
  4. Regarding the Western Foreign Ministers note of May 23 on the demilitarisation of East Germany and the Soviet reply of October 19, see telegram 1318, March 23, and the editorial note, pp. 948 and 951.
  5. Documentation of the sixth session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, May 23–June 20, 1949, is in Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. iii, pp. 856 ff.
  6. For documentation on the negotiations for an Austrian Treaty, see pp. 430 ff.
  7. For the final text of Secretary Acheson’s statement, released to the press on November 8, which closely paralleled the source text, see Department of State Bulletin, November 20, 1950, p. 818.
  8. The replies from London and Paris indicated that both the British and French Foreign Offices were in general agreement with the United States position. Kirk also concurred in this reasoning. Telegrams 2643 and 2666, November 7, from London; 2581, November 8, from Paris; and 1001, November 10, from Moscow, none printed (396.1/11–750 through 11/1050).
  9. At the bottom of the source text was the typewritten notation “Approved by The President”.