The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Soviet Ministry for Foreign Affairs 1

The Ambassador of the United States of America has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Soviet Government’s note of February 5, 1951, and under instructions from his Government, to reply as follows:

The United States Government regrets that the Soviet Government in its reply repeats and further exaggerates inaccurate statements about the policies and motives of the United States, France and the United Kingdom as well as the German Federal Republic. The Soviet allegations are totally without foundation.

The attempt to eliminate the causes of international tension is a subject which so deeply touches the interests of all peoples that it demands the most serious and honest consideration. Clearly, if these causes are to be eliminated, they must first be correctly identified.

It is obvious that it is not the German problem or the consideration of a German contribution to the defense of Western Europe which lies at the root of the present tension. The United States Government wishes to emphasize, moreover, that in Western Germany there do not exist any German military forces, or any German war industry and that the only fait accompli in this field in Europe is the existence of the huge armaments maintained by the Soviet bloc which include forces raised in East Germany. In short as the United States Government stated in its note of December 22, the serious tension which exists at present arises in the first instance from the general attitude adopted by the Government of the U.S.S.R. since the end of the war.

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The Soviet Government has referred to the defense program undertaken by the United States and the free nations of Europe. It must be as apparent to the Soviet Government, as it is to world public opinion, that the free nations of the world, confronted with the vast armed forces maintained by the Soviet Union and the nations under its control and in the face of the frustration by the Soviet Government of the sincere efforts of a large majority of the members of the United Nations to obtain effective international control and reduction of armaments, have had no course except to move to redress for their own security the great disparity in armed forces existing in the world.

The United States Government wishes to insure that the discussion at any meeting of the four Ministers shall include these real causes of tension and that a suitable agenda to that end be drawn up. Since the Soviet Government has admitted the possibility of discussing questions other than Germany, and has itself drawn attention to that of armaments, the Government of the United States, which desires to raise this question, assumes that the Soviet Government does not object to the representatives of the four Governments in the preliminary conversations preparing an agenda which will cover the causes of tension in Europe, including the existing level of armaments; problems affecting Germany; the Austrian treaty. The formulation of these and other subjects which may be agreed upon, as well as their order on the agenda, will naturally be considered at the preliminary conference.

If the Soviet Government agrees with the basis outlined above for a preliminary conference in Paris, the United States Government suggests that the representatives of the Four Powers meet there on March 5. If, as the Government of the United States hopes, the preliminary conference of representatives finds a mutually acceptable basis for a meeting of the ministers, the Governments of the United States suggests that the Foreign Ministers of the United States France, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union meet in Washington on a date to be recommended by the representatives. The Government of the United States is informed that these arrangements would be convenient to the Governments of France and the United Kingdom.

  1. The source text is the copy printed in the Department of State Bulletin, March 5, 1951, p. 366. It was drafted at Washington by a tripartite working group consisting of Bohlen, de Juniac, and Steel and approved by the representatives of the three Western powers at their informal meeting on February 16. The text was then transmitted to Moscow on February 17 together with instructions to concert with the British and French for its delivery. (Circular telegrams 484 and 485, 396.1/2–1751.) On February 23 Ambassador Kirk reported that on February 19 he had delivered the note, numbered No. 33, as instructed and that Vyshinsky had stated upon reading it that the last sentence of paragraph four did not correspond with realities. (Telegram 1533 from Moscow, 396.1/2–1951.) Copies of the note were released to the press by the Department of State on February 20.