396.1–PA/5–1451: Telegram

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

top secret

6931. From Jessup. During tea interval this afternoon Semenov sought out Bohlen and stated as “personal opinion” that if Western Powers accepted NAT as disagreed item putting in Western column1 such reasons as they desire for refusal of Sov proposal, position of Ger demil cld be worked out without “difficulty”. Semenov stated Sov del was genuinely unable to understand strong Western objection to mentioning NAT as disagreed item since this merely reflected what had happened at conf namely, that a Sov proposal had been presented and had been rejected by three Western Powers, but not having been withdrawn was still therefore outstanding. He appeared to lay considerable emphasis on fact that Western Powers wld be entitled to put their explanation of their objection in parallel column.

Semenov also approached in identical vein Laloy of Fr del who also speaks Russian. He added, however, one detail in regard to settlement of position of Ger demil by saying that this might be arranged by inclusion of footnote circulated by Jessup this afternoon which explained that only difference this sub-item was on position and not on wording.2

Semenov’s remarks were clearly offer under instruction for deal along these lines. Under our present instructions and those of Brit this is unacceptable,3 but it might forecast a public Sov offer of a similar nature which wld then leave unagreed NAT item the only outstanding question. If such offer is made, strength of Sov position wld lie in fact they were prepared to submit all these items in disagreement to Mins. Since NAT item is disagreed and proposed manner of reference to it wld clearly reflect positions taken in this conf, situation resulting our rejection this offer wld not be easy to handle publicly especially if this were considered cause for not holding any CFM.

While we continue to doubt that Sovs will yield on total acceptance of both outstanding points there is, as always chance that they might [Page 1142] do so with some face-saving coloration. We wld doubt if even this outside chance wld materialize unless and until Sov Govt is convinced that there will be no conf unless our alternative B is accepted in toto. Shld we continue to stand firm on total acceptance and Russians remain adamant on at least one of the issues, breakdown wld occur in circumstances considerably less favorable to West than they were immediately after presentation triple play. In any event, we feel strongly that continuance of present fruitless mtgs are working to Sov advantage and deteriorating our position. We therefore feel we must either process as rapidly as possible to presentation tripartite note or indicate willingness to trade out one or other of two open questions in private session.

We still think there is vast difference between NAT as an agreed item and NAT as a disagreed item clearly reflecting positions taken.

We wonder if President had in mind all possible variations of statement on agenda explaining our rejection NAT item. For example, if NAT item is printed only in Sov column, we might insert opposite in our column “this item was rejected because it is not considered a subject for discussion by the four mins”. We still do not understand why such a presentation wld be injurious to US or prejudicial to NAT.

We have gone into general situation here in light of Semenov’s offer because we feel bound to reopen possibility of indicated ref to NAT instead of yielding on Ger demil. If this possibility is open for reconsideration, it wld be a variant to para numbered 2 ourtel 6923.4

Does Dept consider we can count on Brit standing firm up to breaking point if propaganda picture begins to turn against West as result of several more negative mtgs? Davies’ personal views make it likely that in such circumstances he will strongly recommend yielding rather than breaking.

Suggest Dept keep Franks informed of any alteration in Dept’s views already communicated to him. (Para 5 Deptel 6043.5)

[ Jessup ]
  1. Presumably this is a reference to the Western (United States, United Kingdom, and France) column in Alternative B, p. 1134.
  2. At the 51st session, before the tea interval, the Western Representatives had introduced a written statement that the only disagreement on the question of German demilitarization concerned its place in item 1. Gromyko did not react specifically to the statement, but, in reiterating the Soviet position on the three alternatives, he was more insistent on referring NATO and American bases to the Foreign Ministers as an unagreed item. (Telegram 6932, from Paris, May 14, 396.1–PA/5–1451)
  3. At the tripartite meeting before the 51st session, Davies reported that Morrison felt the Western Representatives should stand fast on Alternative B and make no more concessions on German demilitarization. (Telegram 6917 from Paris, May 14, 396.1–PA/5–1451)
  4. Not printed; in it Jessup suggested that there were two assumptions from which the Western Representatives could proceed if the Soviet Delegation stood firm: (1) plan each move with the knowledge that the Western Representatives would not change their position and proceed with the delivery of a note to Moscow and the ending of the meetings in Paris, or (2) try out a deal on German demilitarization in an effort to get full agreement at Paris (396.1–PA/5–1451).
  5. Supra.