396.1–PA/3–1051: Telegram

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


5291. From Jessup. Ourtel 5290.1 Two hour tripartite discussion last night of revised agenda item revealed basic divergence between our position and approach which British and French think we should take toward Soviet’s present position on agenda.

First indication of British and French desire to make things easier for Gromyko came out when both Parodi and Davies argued strongly against specification “D” concerning Iron Curtain.2 Both favored [Page 1093] dropping subject from agenda proposal because they said it would be difficult to raise with the Soviet at this time since no prior mention of it had been made.

Second indication was British and French insistence on using words “demilitarization of Germany” in revised agenda proposal. Davies asked whether in last resort we would not have to use this phrase if Soviets insisted. He said that if Soviets insisted on including it he did not think we could break on this question but would have to give in. He said what he wanted to do was to make it easier for Gromyko to ask for revised instructions and easier for Moscow to accept our agenda proposal.

At later point in meeting Davies made strongly worded appeal for doing everything possible excluding appeasement or acceptance Soviet agenda to ensure that conference would be held. He referred to British public opinion which he said favored Ministers meeting if only for sake of meeting and even though chance of accomplishing anything was very remote. He said representatives here had obligation to do what they can to make possible Four Power conference in attempt to buy time and to seek to avert war.

Parodi echoes most of Davies views. He also believes our revised agenda proposal should be worded in such a way as to make it easier for Moscow to alter Gromyko’s instructions.

Jessup insisted our immediate objective was to convince Gromyko that if the Soviets want an agreed agenda he would have to get new instructions. By standing firm here on the agenda we would not only force the Soviets to decide whether they wanted a conference but if they did accept our agenda we would have greatly facilitated work of Ministers meeting by providing real basis for this meeting. He reviewed ABC of negotiating with Soviets and pointed out that partial concessions did not produce reciprocal concessions on Soviet part. He insisted that unless we remain firm now we might endanger our present diplomatic position as well as destroy any chance of successful Ministers meeting.3

[ Jessup ]
  1. Not printed; it transmitted the following revision of the proposed agenda which would be introduced at the Four-Power Talks by the French:

    “Examination of causes of present international tensions in Europe and of means to secure real and lasting improvement in relations between USSR, the US, the UK and France such as: measures to eliminate fear of aggression; fulfillment of present treaty obligations; examination of existing level of armaments and of questions concerning Germany in this sphere.” (396.1–PA/3–1051)

  2. At their tripartite meeting on March 4 the Western powers had agreed that the following four specifications might be added to Item I of their original agenda (see footnote 2, p. 1088) if the tactical situation required:

    “A. The fear of aggression.

    B. Existing level of armaments (and its effect on the problem of German demilitarization).

    C. Non-fulfillment of treaty obligations.

    D. Barriers to official and unofficial intercourse between government and peoples.” (Telegram 5142 from Paris, March 4, 396.1–PA/3–451)

  3. The revised tripartite agenda item was introduced by Parodi at the sixth session on March 10 and rejected by Gromyko at the seventh session on March 11 as offering no solution to major problems. The U.S. Delegation reported on these two sessions in telegrams 5306 and 5337, March 10 and 13, neither printed (396.1–PA/3–1051 and 3–1351). At the seventh session Gromyko had also introduced a new proposal for Item 2 in the Soviet proposed agenda (telegram 5182, p. 1087) which read “Reestablishment of German unity and conclusion of peace treaty with Germany.”