396.1/11–2850: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France 1

top secret

2985. Re Paris tel 3002 Nov 27 and London tel 3102 Nov 28.2

1. Dept approves ur action in transmitting text of proposed note to Fr and Brit despite ur doubts as to efficacy of line taken in this proposed reply.

2. In reply to Parodi’s inquiry concerning our attitude to possibility of suggesting UN or other neutral comm to examine charges of remilitarization in Germany, we frankly do not favor such proposal. This suggestion was considered and rejected during preparation of note protesting formation of East German militarized police last spring. We fear it might backfire if accepted. There are considerable forces of “service units” already in being in US and Brit zones whose existence wld not be hidden. Militarized forces in Sov zone might on other hand be temporarily transformed into police forces or their existence might otherwise be hidden from investigating comm temporarily. Furthermore, possible acceptance of such proposal wld mean that all plans for using Ger manpower in western defense wld have to be shelved for considerable period and we wld consider it foolhardy thus to tie our own hands at this critical juncture.

3. It was indeed our purpose in drawing up draft note to refuse this Sov proposal for a CFM meeting both because of its term of reference which restricted discussion to demilitarization of Germany on the unacceptable basis of the Praha Declaration and because we felt, as apparently do the Brit and Fr judging from Bevin’s and Schuman’s public statements, that any meeting with the Sovs on the Ger problem alone wld be unrealistic and self-defeating if not brought into the general focus of other problems causing world tensions. We cannot feel Sov proposal was designed other than to exploit propaganda advantage, to delay build up of western defense and to divide western allies; hence fundamentally our reply must be gauged to meet this thrust and by counter suggestion to extract maximum advantage for the West. We did not intend reply shld be polemical in nature but on other hand we believe refusal of CFM as proposed must be clearly supported by reasons therefor. We wld have no objection, if Brit and Fr insist, to modify somewhat “tone” proposed text shld you judge modification might be better received by Western European [Page 912] public opinion, providing the substance of our position not thereby altered.

4. You are correct in your interpretation contained final sentence fourth para Paris 3002 that proposed reply represents turn-down of this specific Sov proposal coupled with declaration our willingness have exploratory talks. In our view there is no public demand for CFM meeting as such or on specific question Germany. Rather what public demand may exist appears reflect anxiety that no doors be slammed in Sov face and that way be left open for discussion with Sovs all questions affecting internatl peace and security. We do not feel that Sovs can obtain striking propaganda advantage by our refusal to agree CFM meeting when at same time we are suggesting: exploratory talks with a view to examining whether there exists a reasonable basis for more formal discussion of certain problems.

5. We do not see any difficulty in referring to Syrian-Iraqi Resolution as it was carefully drawn to provide maximum flexibility and in its wording calls on the permanent members of the Security Council to meet and discuss “collectively or otherwise, etc.”. Thus a meeting of any combination of the powers in question is appropriate under its terms. Moreover we see definite advantage in our public offer of compliance with this recent unanimous GA resolution.

6. In essence then, Dept’s position is that specific Sov proposal shld be turned down while at same time three powers make the specific counter proposal to explore with the Sovs the possibility of finding a mutually acceptable basis for a more formal discussion of certain outstanding issues. Concerning final para reftel we do not consider proposed text definitive but we believe that in general the line taken therein is the appropriate one.

  1. Repeated to London as 2831, Moscow as 375, and Frankfort as 3934.
  2. Neither printed; in the former, Embassy Paris reported that in order to avoid further delay it had transmitted the draft text although it had doubts about the line taken in the draft; in the latter, Holmes supported this action and stated that the polemical tone of the draft reply was “not only likely to be unacceptable to British and French but also would furnish Soviet unique opportunity to exploit it propaganda-wise.” He also suggested the preparation of another, less tendentious version for tripartite consideration. (396.1/11–2750 and 2850)