396.1 BE/1–2754: Telegram

No. 359
The United States Delegation at the Berlin Conference to the Department of State1

confidential priority

Secto 29. Department pass OSD. Following summary of first part January 26 meeting,2 Bidault presiding:

Meeting began with prepared statement by Secretary transmitted Secto 24.3 Molotov followed with extemporaneous statement on Germany, China and five-power conference. In substance, he said Dulles was wrong in trying to place Soviet position in opposition French and British and that while it would be unrealistic to avoid fact that differences do exist, Foreign Ministers should seek find among such differences those on which they can achieve positive results. He recalled that Bidault, for example, had said it was wrong to have simultaneous discussion Austrian and Korean problems. To this the Soviets agreed, but believed Foreign Ministers should not by-pass either problem. Further, Eden had said British could not agree to a compromise contrary to its point of view on Germany. Molotov emphasized that if none were willing compromise, the Ministers might as well say their work was already over. He added that the Ministers must determine points on which they [Page 825] could agree and recognize others which are not yet ripe for agreement but which could be considered and agreed later.

Molotov recalled that neither the British nor French Ministers had referred to Yalta or Potsdam, however, he felt it necessary refer these agreements since they have direct relation German problem. Further, Dulles had sought place Soviet views in opposition to those of British and French and had compared Potsdam to Versailles. While Soviets agree Versailles was bad Soviet Union had no responsibility for this. Besides, he saw no connection between Versailles and Potsdam.

Molotov added that Yalta and Potsdam, both signed by US, had as goals development peaceful, democratic Germany. Soviet treaties with France and Britain have same goal. He too believed that Germany interested in following democratic and peaceful path, for in Soviet view any other path for Germany would mean national suicide. While some Potsdam decisions had lost meaning, since only of temporary character, main objectives remained valid. Adherence to these objectives necessary if Germany to become great power, while safeguarding peace. Therefore, he could only regard critically Dulles light-hearted attitude toward these agreements.

He said statements that Soviet Union seeking promote hostility between France and Germany were untrue. On contrary, Soviet Union desired friendship between France, Germany and the Soviet Union. While this was a noble yet difficult task, it did not require opposition of three continental powers to UK and US. He believed that this desire for a rapprochement of three continental powers and the Potsdam and Yalta agreements should provide joint basis for the mutual work of the Foreign Ministers. On this basis the Foreign Ministers should attempt to win over majority of Germans as opposed to those Germans who do not desire firm peace. This task in turn would unite four powers.

China. Molotov continued that Chinese People’s Republic is a great power and its founding a great historical event. Those failing recognize this may find themselves in difficult situation, from which conference might help them extricate themselves. Fact that all nations on UN Neutral Commission have recognized Chinese People’s Republic indicates true situation. While true UN condemned China as aggressor, Soviet Union continues maintain objections this action. In contrast US action, Chinese troops entered Korea only when its territory directly threatened. The three powers must also remember war ended in Korea on initiative of Korean People’s Republic and China.

Conference of five great powers. Molotov cited Dulles statements this subject and concluded that it was just as legitimate hold five-power conference as present four-power meeting. He claimed that [Page 826] in UN Security Council the five great powers have certain special rights and only the Chinese People’s Republic should represent China in this body. In view special place of big five in international relations, four Foreign Ministers should support suggestion that five-power conference be held as soon as possible. Molotov then tabled following proposal in connection with “the first item on our agenda”:

“Measures to reduce tension in international relations and the convocation of a five-power conference of Ministers. (Proposal of the USSR delegation)

In view of the need to strengthen world peace and the security of the peoples and to eliminate the threat of a new war and the need to create more favorable conditions for the development of political and economic relations between the nations in conformity with the principles of the United Nations Charter,

It shall be deemed advisable to convene in May–June 1954 a Foreign Ministers conference of France, Britain, The USA, The USSR and the Chinese People’s Republic to consider urgent measures to reduce tension in international relations”.4

Dulles then asked Bidault if an agenda had been adopted. Molotov replied there seemed to be no objections. Bidault said, of course, agenda had not been adopted, since “adoption of agenda” had not been placed before Foreign Ministers. He said he would listen to further general statements, but suggested short recess first. Meeting then recessed.

Following summarizes second part of January 26 meeting: Session reconvened at 1727 after 30-minute recess.

Bidault, as chairman, gave floor to himself. Stating that he wished to speak on subject of agenda as had Molotov yesterday, Bidault voiced objection to agenda proposed by Molotov on grounds that it places more general and more difficult problems first. He said that on such an agenda it is preferable to place the easier problems first. As respects the proposed conference of the five Foreign Ministers, Bidault noted that discussions at Berlin had already brought to light serious differences of opinion. As respects German problem, Bidault noted that Molotov’s statement of yesterday showed him to be opposed to views previously expressed by Bidault. However, the conference must soon get into substance and must by all means avoid a “three month debate” on procedure. Molotov’s proposed agenda is therefore acceptable to French delegation, Bidault concluded, providing that it is clearly understood that French acceptance is not construed as prejudging the substance [Page 827] of the discussions and that France has not accepted Molotov’s viewpoints on substance.

Eden said UK delegation had had in mind another agenda differing in several respects from the one proposed by Molotov. UK would have preferred to begin with German and Austrian questions. UK does not like Molotov’s agenda, either in its order or its substance. However, UK is prepared to accept agenda proposed by Molotov with same provisos just stated by French Foreign Minister.

Eden continued that he would like to answer one point made by Molotov yesterday by stating that UK does not reject compromise on German question. What he had said yesterday and what he wished to repeat was that the UK could not compromise on the fundamental principle of free elections in Germany. Eden will be interested to learn during the course of the conference whether Molotov or he shows the better temperament for compromise.

Secretary replied in negative to Bidault’s inquiry whether Secretary wished to make statement.

Bidault then declared adopted agenda proposed by Molotov and announced that meeting January 27 at 1500 will commence with point one of that agenda. Meeting was adjourned at 1755.

  1. Transmitted in two sections. Repeated to Paris, London, Bonn, Moscow, and Vienna.
  2. The U.S. Delegation verbatim record of the second meeting. USDEL PLEN/2, is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 193. For the full text of the statements by Bidault and Eden, see Berlin Discussions, pp. 29–31.
  3. Infra.
  4. This proposal with slightly different wording was circulated as FPM/54/6 in the records of the conference.