396.1–PA/3–751: Telegram

The United States Representative at the Four-Power Exploratory Talks ( Jessup ) to the Secretary of State


5218. From Jessup. While it is too soon to reach any definite conclusion as to ultimate Soviet position at this meeting, Gromyko’s propaganda blast yesterday may indicate that Soviet Union is primarily interested in exploiting this preliminary conference for propagation of their chief lines on German rearmament and reduction of armed forces of four powers.1

We have been making suitable impromptu answers to Gromyko’s charges during the meetings but are basically in accordance with instructions still endeavoring to confine this meeting to the preparation of agenda without going into substance. We propose to continue this line at today’s meeting but if Gromyko continues to go into substance for propaganda purposes, we will clearly be confronted with a situation which might require a change in our present agreed tactics.

We would obviously be at considerable disadvantage propaganda-wise if we were avoiding substantive discussion as to real causes of present tension while Russians were exploiting to the full their charges that present tension is primarily caused by question of German remilitarization and Western rearmament. In order to enter into substance, however, we would have to be prepared to give a full exposition of our view as to the real causes of the existing tension (or possibly even to propose agenda items expressing our view) i.e., Soviet aggressive attitude, use of intimidation and threat, paralysis of UN by abuse of veto, maintenance and direction of fifth columns (Cominform) and similar questions which under existing instructions and tripartite agreement we have refrained from putting forward.

One serious difficulty in shifting our tactics is that the three Western powers have as yet no agreed tripartite position or firm individual position on substantive questions nor agreed material or details re satellite or Soviet armament.

Present Soviet propaganda line is to contrast “vague, unspecific nature of Western agenda with concrete, positive identification of true causes of tension in Soviet agenda proposal”.

If considered undesirable for reasons given above to attempt to transform this preliminary meeting into substantive conference, we might take positive line that Soviets are expressly violating basis on [Page 1091] which preliminary conference at their insistence was called and that West is unwilling to have preliminary meeting substitute for discussions which should properly be dealt with by Foreign Ministers; This would immediately raise question of breaking off conference.

We will know more after today’s meeting as to which course Soviet delegation intends to pursue and, therefore, this cable should be regarded as preliminary in order to acquaint Department with situation we may be confronted with in next few days.

[ Jessup ]
  1. In telegram 5207, March 7, from Paris, the U.S. Delegation had reported that Gromyko at the second meeting of the Deputies had launched into a long propaganda argument, asserting that the future of Germany had been decided at Potsdam and charging the three Western Powers with violating the Potsdam Agreement. (396.1–PA/3–751)