396.1/1–2051: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Offices 1

secret   priority

407. FYI fol is agreed text tripartite reply to latest Sov note re four-power mtg of FonMins. Instr fol in separate tel.2

“1, The Chargé d’Affaires of the United States of America has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note of Dec 30, 1950 of the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs and under instructions, from his Goyt, to reply as follows:

“2. The purpose of the United States Government is to seek to allay existing international tensions by discussing all problems likely to threaten world peace with a view to resolving the fundamental differences between nations. It therefore confines itself in this reply to a further examination of the question of the basis on which such negotiations might take place and refrains from refuting in detail the allegations on a number of points, especially in regard to Germany, which are made in the Soviet Government’s note. As the United States Government has repeatedly pointed out, particularly in its note of December 22, 1950, these allegations are competely without foundation.

“3. With regard to the substance of the Soviet Government’s note, the United States Government observes that the Soviet Government does not object to a preliminary conference of representatives of the four governments but, in view of other statements in the note, the United States Government feels it necessary to ask for clarification [Page 1066] in order to avoid any misunderstanding and to make it possible that such a preliminary conference should serve a useful purpose.

“4. The United States Government in its note of December 22 stated that the Soviet proposal for a meeting of the Foreign Ministers confined to considering the demilitarization of Germany in the context of the so-called Prague Declaration was not acceptable for the reasons therein given. The note proposed specifically that a meeting of the Foreign Ministers should include in its discussions not only questions related to Austria and Germany but also the principal problems whose solution would permit a real and lasting improvement in the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States, Great Britain and France and the elimination of the causes of present international tensions throughout the world.

“5. In its reply the Soviet Government limited itself to an indication that it is willing to discuss questions concerning Germany. In this connection, the note of the Soviet Government refers again to the so-called Prague Declaration which the United States Government as well as the Governments of France and the United Kingdom have made clear they could in no circumstances accept as a limitation on or as a basis for discussions.

“6. The note of the Soviet Government thus does not reveal whether that government agrees that a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the four countries would dell with the other questions indicated in the note of the United States Government. The United States Government wishes to emphasize, as was stated in its note of December 22nd, that the tension which exists in the world today does not arise from the German problem. A discussion limited to the questions proposed by the Soviet Government would therefore be inadequate and unreal.

“7. Consequently, the United States Government would be glad to know whether the Soviet Government does agree that those further questions and problems referred to above will be among those which the Foreign Ministers may discuss.

“8. In its note of December 22 the United States Government further proposed that representatives of the four governments be designated to meet and examine the problems just referred to with a view to finding a mutually acceptable basis for a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the four countries and recommend3 to their governments a suitable agenda.

“9. In the view of the United States Government, these representatives would need to give some consideration to the questions and problems involved in order to determine their formulation for inclusion in the agenda as well as the order in which they would appear so that the mutually acceptable basis referred to could be established. It would not be the function of the representatives to attempt to arrive at solutions of the problems, this function being reserved for the Ministers themselves.

“10. While the note of the Soviet Government states that it does not object to a preliminary conference of representatives of the four governments, it is not clear in view of other statements in the note whether the Soviet Government agrees that the function of such a preliminary [Page 1067] conference should be as stated above. Consequently, the United States Government would be glad to know whether the view of the Soviet Government in this matter is the same as its own.

“11. As for the meeting place of the preliminary conference the United States Government is prepared to agree on Paris.

“12. The Government of the United States renews its proposal made on December 22 and hopes that the Soviet Government is prepared to discuss the elimination of the principal causes of present international tensions and that it will accordingly agree on the points mentioned above. If the Soviet Government does agree, the United States Government for its part is ready to set, in agreement with the Governments of the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union, the date of the exploratory meeting of representatives.”4

  1. This telegram was drafted by Bonbright, cleared by Jessup and Matthews, and sent to Moscow, London, Paris, Brussels, Luxembourg, The Hague, Vienna, and Frankfurt.
  2. Circular telegram 408, January 20, not printed (396.1/1–2051). It instructed Embassy Moscow to concert with the British and French for early delivery of the note to the Foreign Ministry, if possible on January 23, and instructed Embassies Paris and London that agreement on Paris as the site for the exploratory talks was conditioned on a firm commitment to holding the subsequent Foreign Ministers talks in the United States.

    Following the transmission of telegram 3594, January 8 (p. 1058), the Department of State had received the comments of the British and French and its own Missions on the text of the draft reply. While the U.S. Missions had suggested various minor revisions, the British had expressed agreement with the general line taken but had wanted a more legalistic approach. The French had suggested a shorter reply, had considered the refutation of the Soviet allegations to be useless, and had preferred London or Paris as the site of the exploratory meetings. Coordination of the several views was begun in Washington by Jessup, Ambassador Bonnet, and Charge Steel. The revised draft reply resulting from their discussions had been transmitted to U.S. Missions in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union on January 16. This second draft was largely the same as that of the final text transmitted here. A copy of the second draft and documentation reflecting the views of the various governments and U.S. Missions are in file 396.1.

  3. In telegram 1395 from Moscow, January 23, Barbour reported that the final text of the note would have the word “recommending” instead of “recommend.” (396.1/1–2351)
  4. The U.S. note was delivered to Vyshinsky at 3 p. m. GMT on January 23 (telegram 1400 from Moscow, January 23 (396.1/1–2351)).