396.1 LO/11–453: Telegram

No. 281
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1

2431. Our preliminary comments Soviet note November 3:2

Note largely repetition points made Soviet note September 283 and repeats proposal for five-power conference with participation Communist China to discuss wide range international issues. Soviet note indicates that such discussion is necessary prelude to four-power conference on Germany to examine question of German peace treaty, creation all-German government and conduct all-German elections.

Soviet note however goes beyond previous notes in establishing preconditions for discussion German problem. It specifically demands that all progress towards EDC ratification and German contractuals be stopped. Note picks up theme of European security mentioned in Allied note October 184 and not only states Soviet position that “EDC has nothing in common with European security” but goes on to require “liquidation” of NATO collective security structure. Latter demand phrased in terms of “US military bases” but directly links these with NATO by assertion that “no one can assert that North Atlantic bloc serves defensive aims” in view existence various US bases Europe, North Africa, Near East.

In virtually requiring abandonment EDC project and dismantling NATO collective security structure, Soviet note makes clear that its price for coming to conference table is a defenseless Europe. Only carrot thrown out to European governments to counterbalance this harsh condition is suggestion that existing Franco-Soviet and Anglo-Soviet mutual security treaties might be strengthened.

Reference section note dealing with Far East, of interest that while adhering to previous views on composition Korean political conference, Soviet note does not close door to eventual holding of [Page 668] Korean political conference on separate basis from other conferences proposed.

Though language of note not belligerent in tone, spelling out of preconditions for a conference known to be absolutely unacceptable to Western allies makes this a strong uncompromising document. Reference to an increase in the “threat of a new world war” is made both in connection with armaments question and question of EDC and NATO. Note is therefore not without certain threatening aspect.

Department is however inclined agree with analysis Moscow’s 5495 that reasons for Soviet unwillingness engage in any serious negotiations this time relate primarily to Soviet determination strengthen domestic position in Soviet orbit, particularly East Germany, and out of preoccupation with relations with China. While too early predict how long Soviets will adhere to this rigid position, it appears clear that for indefinite period West will be confronted with revived tough Soviet line in foreign policy.

While uncompromising nature position taken by Soviets in note no doubt determined by internal necessities Soviet regime, its propaganda message clearly directed not at US or German opinion (to which latter it would be most disappointing) but primarily at our Western European allies, in particular France. Repetitious references to danger of revived German militarism in connection with threat new world war, allusion to Franco Spain, and hints that five-power conference might afford opportunity for discussion Indochina question may strike responsive chords among some European elements.

Essence of note is however a demand for liquidation our common defense effort, including NATO, US troops in Europe and EDC as prerequisite to conference on Germany and Austria. Because this aspect of Soviet note places issue squarely before our allies as to path they now wish take, we would prefer have British and French suggest how we should best respond to note, that is, whether or not we should attempt disengage ourselves from present note series (while leaving door open for future negotiations), and, if so, how. FYI while we feel that European public already resigned to inability get Soviets to Lugano as result of negative position taken by previous Soviet notes and that present note should sharpen and firm up European opinion this regard, we do not wish to attempt set pace re Allied response but rather let British and French make suggestions.

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London and Paris requested approach Foreign Offices, outline our analysis of new Soviet note as given above and get their reactions as to note and best course of Allied response.6 In view of degree to which NATO is involved in note, we also hope British and French will recognize desirability of presenting tripartite analysis to NAC at earliest date and inviting views of other Governments. USRO please note.7

HICOG requested similarly to sound out Adenauer. In view our difficulties with him re last two Allied notes, which we believe stemmed at least partly from his feeling he was not consulted until very late in process of Allied reply, suggest inviting his concrete and urgent suggestions re form and substance our response. HICOG contact with Adenauer might well be on part of three powers, since Conant in chair this month, though if British and French not prepared sound him out to this extent now, we would still appreciate informal and urgent contact by Conant for our information.8

While it would normally be our turn to coordinate Allied response here in Washington, Paris might be more convenient for British and French. In fact, in view foregoing analysis we believe it would be highly desirable for coordination be done in Paris. Kidd could proceed there from Germany in few days to help Achilles (assuming Dillon once more willing spare Achilles for this purpose).

  1. Drafted by Thurston and Morris; cleared with GER, C, U, and FE; and initialed for Secretary Dulles by Merchant. Also sent to Paris, Bonn, and Vienna and repeated to Berlin, Moscow, and Munsan-ni, Korea.
  2. Supra.
  3. Document 271.
  4. Document 279.
  5. Telegram 549 reported Moscow’s preliminary interpretation of the Soviet note. (396.1/11–453)
  6. On Nov. 4 Aldrich reported that the reaction of the British Foreign Office to the Soviet note was the same as the United States. (Telegram 1928 from London, 396.1/11–453) The following day Henri Ruffin, the First Secretary in the French Embassy, informed Thurston that the French preliminary reaction was even more negative than that of the United States. (Memorandum of conversation, by Thurston, Nov. 5, 396.1/11–553)
  7. The tripartite analysis was presented to NATO at a closed session on Nov. 12. Hughes reported on the session in Polto 807 from Paris, Nov. 12. (740.5/11–1253)
  8. On Nov. 6 Conant reported that the Chancellor seemed to believe that the reply should record the West’s regret at the Soviet unwillingness to meet and reiterate its willingness to meet. (Telegram 1612 from Bonn, Nov. 6, 396.1/11–653)