396.1/11–2350: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France 1

top secret

2869. 1. Now that public statements have been made by Brit and Fr FonMins and Secy in effect rejecting Sov proposal for CFM on narrow basis Ger demilitarization while at same time not rejecting principle Four-Power talks on Ger question as a whole and other broad issues, we are faced with problem of working out concerted tripartite reply to Sov note of Nov 3. Statements by Bevin and Secy were in their implications practically identical whereas Schuman’s [Page 909] statement leaves perhaps impression of slightly more desire to discuss broad questions at issue between East and West.2.

2. In addition problem of what reply shld be made specific Sov proposal at hand there is fundamental question we must answer among ourselves, to which emphasis is given by Iraqi-Syrian resolution recently adopted by UN, namely what we may expect gain or lose by sitting down with Sovs in special talks and endeavoring discuss specific issues at this time. Our view, reinforced in particular by patent propaganda nature of phrasing and timing Sov proposal and in general by universally aggressive posture of Sov and Sov inspired operations around world, is that we shld not count on anything substantive emerging from such talks at this juncture. Hence it must be decided whether in present circumstances it wld be to our advantage for tactical reasons to agree to special talks. Among considerations which this question raises are effect on public opinion in free world of refusal as compared to acceptance of negots, as well as effect on public opinion of failure of such negots if undertaken; of even greater importance is effect which talks might have on our plans for building strength in the West, and finally whether they might produce some mitigation of increased internatl tension arising out of Korean affair and Chinese intervention.

3. Along with these considerations we must be clear on what subjects would be susceptible of discussion with Sovs. Terms of ref of CFM are restrictive in this regard with result that subjects suggested by us other than Ger and Aus cld conceivably lay us open to Sov charge of introducing extraneous matter for purpose of indirectly refusing CFM mtg. We of course wld not wish discuss Japan at this time, not only for reason our past position Japan not subject to CFM competence but because Jap treaty proposals have already been made through other channels.3 Other FE subjects, especially Korea and Formosa, are before UN and shld be kept in that framework.

4. As far as US public opinion is concerned we believe refusal Sov CFM proposal wld be generally understood if properly handled. It seems to us that in other countries as well there may be perhaps less pressure than formerly for special talks with Sovs. We wld welcome your estimate this factor. You will have noted that Sov press is already [Page 910] endeavoring make what capital it can out of Bevin’s alleged rejection of Sov proposal as “result of strong pressure from Washington”. Yet on balance we believe an outright refusal wld be disadvantageous from propaganda point of view.

5. It seems to us there are two principal alternative replies which might be made to Sov note of Nov 3: (1) Note which in effect rejects specific Sov proposal but leaves clear our willingness discuss any time Aus and other issues on reasonable basis without however our making any counter proposal or suggestion. This cld be along lines Secy’s statement on Prague Declaration4 and include appropriate reference to Aus. This wld be in effect simply an expansion of line taken by three FonMins in their recent statements. (2) Note rejecting narrow basis Sov proposal as above but making counter suggestion that if Sov Govt really desires conversations Four Powers cld designate reps to conduct exploratory talks as called for by Iraqi-Syrian resolution to determine whether there exists acceptable basis for discussion of any questions we might agree upon as an agenda.

6. We incline to second alternative. Although impending arrival Chi Commie del at UN may afford opportunity for negot there on Korean issue and Jap treaty problem has already been launched in dipl channels, second alternative has double advantage of both keeping alive principle our eternal readiness to talk on reasonable basis and of responding directly to recent GA resolution. If this alternative is chosen it will of course be essential that adequate preparatory work among the Three Powers assure concerted positions with respect to all possible subjects of discussion with Sovs. Suggested draft note now being cleared and will be telegraphed to you tomorrow.5

7. Upon receipt telegram referred to pls obtain Fr and Brit preliminary reactions to foregoing including draft note.

8. Inasmuch as coordination three govt position this matter will require rather extensive consultation we believe this shld be centered in one capital. We wld prefer Paris particularly in view Bohlen’s past CFM experience and we understand Paris acceptable to FR. We hope consultations can take place next week. Pls ascertain whether this suggestion acceptable to Brit.

9. Pls ascertain French and British views re possibility communicating to NATO members and certain other Govts tripartite position once it has been agreed.

Rptd for action London; for info Moscow and HICOG, Frankfurt, for McCloy.

  1. Repeated to London as 2726, Frankfort as 3811, and Moscow as 360.
  2. Regarding Secretary Acheson’s statement, see telegram 2369, November 6, p. 904; for the text of Bevin’s statement in the House of Commons on November 13, see Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 480, cols. 1383–1385; for Schuman’s statement to the National Assembly on November 14, see Documents on German Unity (Frankfort, Office of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, 1951), pp. 126–127. Bevin’s and Schuman’s statements and a second statement by Bevin on November 29 are printed in Margaret Carlyle (ed.), Documents on International Affairs, 1949–1950 (London, Oxford University Press, 1953) pp. 171–176.
  3. For documentation on the Japanese peace treaty, see vol. vi, pp. 1109 ff.
  4. For the text of Secretary Acheson’s statement on the Prague declaration, see Department of State Bulletin, November 6, 1950, pp. 727–728.
  5. Telegram 2889, November 24, to Paris, not printed. (396.1/11–2450)