394.31/8–3151: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Netherlands 1


271. Kaufmann, Neth Emb,2 informed Dept today that Dutch, after high level consideration, have decided they will not support US proposal for waiver of GATT obligations toward Czech and that if matter presented at 6th Sess Dutch will abstain. They suggest wld be preferable for US take action withdraw concessions now, thus creating fait accompli. Dutch seem think if this done CP’s wld not need take action unless Czechs raised issue. This event, however, no indication given that even then wld Dutch support US against Czech charges violation.

Kaufmann indicated main consideration motivating Dutch refusal go along with US is fear their support US action wld imply they shld take similar action which they not prepared do.

Failure obtain positive Dutch vote in support our proposal will seriously weaken chances US obtain necessary majority, which requires at least 16 countries assuming Czech only CP to vote against. Accordingly, you shld approach FonOff at highest level and make fol points:

1. US deeply disturbed and disappointed at news Dutch feel they unable support US proposal for waiving GATT obligations between US and Czech pursuant Art XXV. Neth position wld undoubtedly also influence other CP’s.

2. US strongly feels it has unimpeachable moral position in holding it shld not be forced continue friendly trade treatment to country [Page 1394] which has so flagrantly violated very principles of internatl law on which GATT rests by outrageous treatment meted out to US natls, trade, Emb personnel, property and econ interests in Czech.

3. US recognizes it is technically bound by ltr of GATT to continue normal econ relations with Czech, failing dubious resort to security exception. Only clear-cut exception to this, completely free of legal doubt or equivocation, wld be by consent of CP’s pursuant to Art XXV. If, despite Czech treatment of US discussed above, CP’s shld nevertheless refuse release US these obligations in legal way clearly open to them, this cld only be regarded in US as travesty of justice. Workability of GATT structure, adaptability to changing circumstances, and essential fairness of attitude of CP’s wld inevitably be brought into question.

4. Proposed severance of obligations between US and Czech does not in any way imply Neth or any other CP must take same action vis-à-vis Czech as US and proposed waiver wld apply only as between US and Czech. Fact is Czech, as tool of Sov Union, has singled out US as main target for hostile actions and has applied especially severe pressure against US as compared other countries free world. You shld inform Dutch neither Can nor Nor, both of which have indicated tentative support US position, believe such support wld require them follow similar course action.

5. Dutch proposal that US create fait accompli by concrete action prior 6th sess presupposes US entirely in wrong on this question. This US completely unable accept. As stated above, our case based on solid ground of moral principle which underlies whole concept of GATT and rest of body of internatl law. If US acted first, without being willing submit matter to CP’s in advance, this wld run risk being-interpreted as implying some doubt as to soundness US position. Moreover, resulting technical departure from ltr of GATT wld certainly be used by Sov Bloc as powerful propaganda weapon designed undermine integrity of West and failure live up to internatl commitments. US has consulted number NATO countries as to right course of action this problem, hoping to act in conformity with gen opinion. Countries consulted were, in addition Neth, UK, Fr, Can, Belg and Nor. With exception Neth and Fr, all countries stated view most emphatically that advance action shld not be taken and that US shld seek waiver first. Also, with exception Neth and Fr, all indicated tentative support US position.

6. US wld hope present matter in GATT in such way as avoid implication CP’s are attempting discuss or vote on merits polit dispute between US and Czecho. Basis for action supporting waiver proposal wld be that, irrespective of merits, gravity of dispute is so great fulfillment trade commitments impossible and they shld therefore be dissolved.

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7. View foregoing, US sincerely hopes Neth will change position and see way clear support US proposal for waiver pursuant Art XXV.

8. US also urging Fr Govt reconsider position. If necessary, this likely be subj discussion between Secy and Schuman.

  1. Repeated to London as 1288, Oslo as 191, Brussels as 282, Ottawa as 50, Canberra as 54, and Paris as 1322.
  2. J. Kaufmann, Commercial Secretary.