396 1/11–2853 Telegram

No. 286
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

2859. Embassy London requested inform Eden that Secretary has read with interest his preliminary views2 on Soviet note of November 263 which were made available to Department today by British Embassy, and that we are disposed agree with him that our correct course is to accept Soviet offer to meet in Berlin as rapidly as possible and without prior conditions on agenda.

You should add that Secretary will be discussing question further with President upon latter’s return to Washington November 30. However, because of Eden’s desire to clear our ideas prior his imminent departure for Bermuda, we wish give him our views without further delay.

We are not inclined interpret Soviet note as accepting our view that a 4-power meeting should be mainly concerned with Germany, European security, and Austria and anticipate on the contrary that Soviets will attempt emphasize their proposal for 5-power meeting with Chinese Communists to consider what they call measures to reduce international tensions.

We have not yet reached any definite conclusions as to tone and scope of our reply to Soviets and believe that this problem will require careful consideration at Bermuda. We are favorably impressed with French suggestion (Paris’ 2091 to Department4) that our reply should contain paragraph refuting Soviet attack on EDC.

Re timing of proposed conference with Soviets we believe that it should be held as soon as possible and would like to aim at first week of January. There are obvious difficulties in the way of such an early date (the French Presidential elections, etc.) but believe we should make concerted effort at Bermuda to remove them.

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Since it will be our intent to emphasize German question at 4-power conference, our final decision on the response to the Soviet note will necessarily be influenced in large part of Adenauer’s views, which we are seeking. Latter’s views on Berlin as site of conference will also be important. We ourselves not particularly concerned about the Berlin aspect and in fact see certain advantages to it from our viewpoint.

Except as indicated above, we find ourselves in full agreement with Eden’s analysis of Soviet note and suggested course of action.

Department is informed that Eden’s views have also been conveyed to French Government. Embassy Paris should therefore bring foregoing US views to attention Bidault or other French officials soon as possible. In so doing, inform French that we are considering their views as transmitted Paris’ 2091 and that we agree with them re need to refute Soviet attack on EDC in our reply.

  1. Drafted by Thurston and approved for transmission by Dulles. Also sent to Paris and Bonn and repeated to Berlin, Moscow, and Vienna.
  2. On Nov. 28 Leishman had given Secretary Dulles a two-page summary of Eden’s views which stated, inter alia, that the Western powers should accept the offer to meet, that Berlin was an acceptable site, that mid-January would be an acceptable date, and that the reply to the Soviet note should be drafted during the Bermuda Conference. A copy of the summary is in file 396.1/11–2853.
  3. Document 284.
  4. Telegram 2091 reported the French belief that it would be difficult to refuse the Soviet offer to meet, that the note indicated no basic shift in Soviet policy, that the reply should contain a refutation of the attack on the EDC, that Berlin was not the place for the meeting, and that their schedule of events made a meeting before mid-January very difficult. (396.1/11–2853)