Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 204

No. 361
Memorandum by the Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Bohlen) to the Secretary of State 1

top secret

Ambassador Joxe gave me the following account of Molotov’s dinner last night for Mr. Bidault. On the Russian side there was Molotov, Gromyko, Vinogradov (Soviet Ambassador to France), Pushkin (Vice Minister for German and Austrian Affairs), Zhukov (Chief of Protocol);2 and for the French, Mr. Bidault, Parodi, Ambassador Joxe and Laloy of the Quai d’Orsay (De Margerie did not attend as his health is poor and there may have been one other member of the French Delegation in his place).

Nothing of any importance transpired at the dinner which had the usual toast to the individuals present, to peace and to the success of the conference etc. Molotov, however, in a reminiscent mood, spoke of his acquaintanceship with world leaders and mentioned that he had personally known Hitler. After dinner, initially Gromyko took Mr. Bidault aside and Molotov took Ambassador Joxe. Molotov had little of interest to say to the Ambassador during this brief period, but Gromyko concentrated with Mr. Bidault on the importance and desirability of a five-power conference. According to Joxe, Mr. Bidault gave him a very short shrift and showed no inclination to pursue the conversation. After that Molotov, Bidault, Joxe, Laloy and the Soviet interpreter sat down around the table. Molotov first talked about Germany without adding anything new to what was heard at the conference, with emphasis on the dangers of German militarism etc., but without, however, even hinting at any concrete or any specific point or proposal. He then turned rather abruptly to the Far East and stated to Mr. Bidault that he felt France should make, at this session, some gesture in favor of a five-power conference. Without apparently troubling to hide the connection, but without definitely stating it, he shifted to Indochina, stating that “we in Moscow” (to which he added that he was not alone in this thought) did not understand exactly what France was after in Indochina. He said that the Soviet Union was very far from the Indochinese scene and had little first-hand knowledge of the situation there (and he implied little interest), but that France was on the spot and very much involved. [Page 834] He then said that if the Soviet Government knew the views of the French Government and whether they would like a settlement now or later or on what basis, his Government would be prepared to act as intermediary in the form of good offices in order to ascertain what the reaction to such a proposition would be. (It was not clear whether Molotov was proposing good offices with Communist China or Ho Chi Minh, or both. I will endeavor to clarify this point.) Bidault refrained from any particular show of interest in this question but merely said that in his view Indochina was not a matter so much of negotiation but first of all for acts of “acquiescence”. According to Joxe, what Bidault had in mind was that the Chinese Communists could unilaterally take certain measures necessary in order to prepare the way for negotiations but that these measures were not, properly speaking, subjects for bargaining.

No attempt was made by Molotov to link Indochinese matters with German questions. He was mild in his criticisms of the West and even of the U.S. during the evening. During the entire evening Molotov and all the Russians went out of their way to be cordial and pleasant.3

Charles E. Bohlen
  1. A notation on the source text by O’Connor indicates that Secretary Dulles saw it. Copies were also sent to Merchant and MacArthur.
  2. A notation on the source text indicates that Semyenov was also present.
  3. A summary of this memorandum was transmitted to President Eisenhower in Dulte 8 from Berlin, Jan. 27. (Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 212)