396.l–PA/4–1551: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Representative at the Four-Power Exploratory Talks (Jessup), at Paris1


5463. For Jessup. Franks came to see Sec’y late this afternoon with long message from Morrison along following lines. Message apparently drafted before receipt of Davies account of luncheon with Gromyko Saturday (which closely paralleled your account).2

Brit believe that we have reached period of serious negotiation and next week will reveal whether agreement is possible or break may occur. Morrison made clear that Brit cannot for internal political reasons contemplate break at Deputies level. Reason given was that agenda language is so technical and vague that public would not understand that more than words are involved. It wld appear that in Brit view only two points of real importance exist: (1) order of subitem on German demilitarization and (2) wording of armament subitem.

Message made it clear that Brit are ready to yield on (1).

Re (2) they stress need for finding compromise formula. They put forward following draft:

“Questions relating to measures for the reduction of the armaments and armed forces of the USSR, the US, the UK, and France, in the light of the existing level of armaments and armed forces and with a view to international agreement on the reduction and control of armaments.”

Morrison also indicated strong dislike for “split agenda” but Franks said that if everything else failed they would accept it.

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Brit were apparently under impression we were pressing for split agenda now, that we were adamant re order of subitem on German demilitarization, and in general were too rigid.3

Sec’y took following line in reply.

He agreed that next week might be crucial.

He still believed that Sovs wanted mtg of Mins.

He thought that tactics were important element and that if we were to give in now on German subitem Russians wld merely move on and concentrate on armaments item and so on down the line. This was why we had been trying in recent days to get Gromyko to discuss agenda as whole. He made it plain that if we were successful in knocking out Sov item on NAT (which we wld not accept) and saw prospect of agreement on other items (notably Trieste and Balkan treaties) question eld be viewed in different light. In that event we might consider agreeing to German subitem as first subject under item one if Sovs accepted our wording of armaments subitem. We wld not however accept wording of armaments subitem which wld leave us open to charge, between now and conclusion of Mins mtg, that western powers had agreed to forego rearmament. Rearmament was policy which three western govts were determined to carry out to correct present balance in favor of USSR. Brit draft proposal quoted above did not appear to meet western requirements in this respect but we were still open to suggestion.

In conclusion and without going into detail Sec’y gave indication of our present thinking along lines para Roman III Deptel 5430.4 We were not pressing now for split agenda, but failing agreement with Sovs he thought that if we put up three alternative choices to Sov Govt western opinion wld understand and if break occurred wld feel that our position was reasonable. To meet Morrison’s point that break shld not occur on Deputies level Sec’y suggested that ultimate presentation of three point proposal might be made by governmental note or by Deputies in name of FonMins.5

  1. This telegram was drafted by Bonbright.
  2. Jessup summarized the luncheon with Gromyko on April 14 as follows:

    “Informal quadripartite conversation after Parodi’s lunch today produced nothing decisive but seemed to shed some light on Sov idea of priorities. Impression is absolute rigidity on armaments item, probable insistence on position of Ger demilitarization, possible elimination NAT item and possible deal on Trieste.” Telegram 6227, from Paris, April 14 (396.1–PA/4–1451).

  3. In a subsequent telegram Jessup was informed further about the message from Morrison:

    Morrison’s msg to Franks suggested that our attitude toward Brit might be influenced by our fear that their desire to move toward accepting Russian wording armament item and order of German demilitarization item might be preview of Brit action at GFM. Franks was instructed to stress that this was not true and that once Mins met Brit wld be just as firm as Fr and ourselves. Franks added personal comment that Brit cld not forget disastrous consequences of Strang’s experience with Sovs in 1939. He thought this was real basis for Brit unwillingness to contemplate break at lower than Ministerial level.” (Telegram 5476 to Paris, April 16, 396.1–PA/4–1651)

  4. Supra.
  5. On April 16 the U.S. Delegation reported that Allen had made a similar approach to Bohlen and De la Tournelle. Bohlen took the same line that Secretary Acheson had, and De la Tournelle rejected the proposals for the same reasons. (Telegram 6240, April 16, from Paris, 396.1–PA/4–1651)