396.1 BE/1–2754: Telegram

No. 367
The United States Delegation at the Berlin Conference to the Department of State1

secret priority

Secto 35. Department pass OSD. Following summary of third Ministers’ meeting January 27, Eden presiding:2

Molotov began by recalling he had stated views of Soviet delegation on first item of agenda, measures for reducing tensions in international relations and Five-Power Conference. He had also tabled specific proposal3 he asked views of other Ministers on Soviet statement and proposal.

Secretary made prepared statement, text being transmitted separately, rejecting Five-Power Conference proposal and proposing Ministers pass to succeeding item of agenda.4

Bidault followed with prepared statement. He began by rejecting also concept that United Nations Charter gives Five-Powers right to run world. He said Charter gave them special responsibilities, but not privileges. Charter based in general on equality of all member countries. Turning to problem of Communist China, he said that settlement of world problems requires spirit of peace. He hoped future would hold more hope in this respect than past. He formally accused Chinese Communist Government of directly helping in many ways to prolong war which had cost France large number of lives and necessitated great sacrifices. This situation still continues. He did not think that simply adding one participant to the conference would do away with such causes of tension. It [Page 841] was necessary that participant be imbued with changed spirit in order to improve situation, France could not entertain such a suggestion so long as facts and situation remain as they are at present. When facts and situation change, France would consider matter.

Bidault said he wished to speak briefly about what would appear to be more practical and concrete method of dealing with matter. There had never been any refusal of contact. Belated signature of Korean armistice was proof of that fact. Problem must be dealt with in its own context which he said was not universal context, but context of Asia. There were in that area, problems of Korea and Southeastern Asia. In Korea there was armistice, but no peace. In Southeastern Asia, although hostilities began earlier, there was still no armistice. Means for establishing peace exist in Korea, in armistice terms calling for political conference. He thought it was necessary that conversations on this subject be resumed. Political conference could deal with Indochina problem. This would be normal way to deal with subject. French were open to any suggestion as to how to deal with it, but he pointed out that normal method had not been tried so that it could not be said to have failed.

Bidault concluded by saying that way to go about developing general settlement is to attach individual problems logically and successively on their merits and not to try to deal with everything at once in hope of miracle. Settlement of one issue would facilitate solution of next and thus total settlement would eventually emerge.

Eden also made prepared statement.5 He understood that Five-Power Conference proposed by Soviets might deal with any or all problems throughout world. United Kingdom did not feel this was way to deal with international tensions. He believed objectives should be limited, and world problems could best be solved if Ministers dealt patiently with individual problems before them. They should begin in Berlin with problems of Germany and Austria, for which Four Powers shared certain clearly defined responsibilities. He agreed with Secretary’s and Bidault’s statements that Five Powers had not been accorded by United Nations Charter right to settle affairs of world. Legitimate rights and interests of other countries should not be overlooked.

Insofar as Asia was concerned, Eden said there was no evidence as yet Communist China Government is willing to collaborate in attempts to settle on acceptable basis Korean or Indochina, or any other Asian problems. Molotov had suggested that Five-Power Conference might discuss Korea. Machinery for settlement of Korean question with participation all five governments was provided for [Page 842] in form of political conference by armistice agreement. While Communist China has maintained it is anxious for this conference, it has in practice prevented its establishment. Best and speediest way of making progress would be for Communist China to give proof of its sincerity, by enabling political conference be convened without further delay. This would be best way of beginning reduce tension in Asia.

Eden referred to Molotov’s proposal that Five-Power Conference deal with disarmament. He said this and other questions of such wide international interest should be handled within framework of United Nations, which would permit all interested governments to be properly represented. He did not believe that any conference, regardless of number, would make progress if agenda undefined and if discussions range of every topic in international relations. Primary task of Ministers was to deal with outstanding European questions, i.e., Germany and Austria where four governments have special responsibilities. If they could do this, they would be in better position to consider other problems which were not first purpose of their meeting.

Molotov said that when Soviet delegation proposed Five-Power Conference, they had proposed three specific groups of questions to be considered by it: (1) General reduction of armaments; (2) political problems, in particular special emphasis on relations among Five Powers with Chinese People’s Republic; (3) economic questions relating to improvement of international trade along normal lines.6 Statements by other Ministers had referred only to the second group of questions and had ignored military and economic problems.

Molotov pointed out Bidault had raised the question of disarmament in his opening statement as one essential to easing of international tensions. He agreed with Bidault’s statement and believed world would welcome it if Ministers could contribute to solution of this problem. Referring to economic problems, he said Dulles had several times recently mentioned that USSR, CPR and other peoples democracies now have territory with population 800 million. These 800 million are in some respects, cut off from markets with which they formerly had considerable contact. He doubted it was in interest of either party to place obstacles in way of trade between these 800 million and the remaining 1.6 billion people of world. This policy of separation is desired by only a few countries. He mentioned India and France as desiring trade relations with Soviets, as well as English businessmen, (despite preliminary discouragement by United Kingdom Government). Molotov said refusal to [Page 843] normalize trade relations meant desire to maintain international tensions, since discrimination in economic relations becomes political factor. USSR has no desire to be walled-off from rest of world and wishes to develop trade on basis of mutual advantage and equality. He believed conference of Five Powers who are most directly concerned would be of great importance in solving this question.

Molotov referred to Articles 23 and 24 of United Nations Charter as giving special responsibility to Five Powers for maintenance of international peace and security. He said he agreed with Bidault that Charter imposed responsibility, rather than conferred privileges. Important that Five Powers should meet from time to time to discuss important international problems. He cited Potsdam provisions creating CFM with Five-Power membership, which he pointed out was agreed after signature of United Nations Charter as evidence Five-Power discussions not inconsistent with Charter.

Molotov said he understood Eden had not confined discussions to Germany and Austria problems, but had said these should be dealt with first. He understood Bidault had been willing to discuss Korea and Indochina. He believed Ministers should not limit themselves to these two problems. While objections were being raised to Five-Power Conference, there had been Three-Power Conferences not limited in their agenda. Soviet proposal for Five-Power Conference was not limited to Asian problems. China is great power and would be helpful in solution of three groups of problems to which he had previously referred. In this connection, Molotov mentioned for discussion at Five-Power Conference, both improvement of relations among great powers, and between great powers and small powers. He alleged that Allied notes of November 3 [October 18]7 had indicated willingness deal not only with European problems, but also such matters as Korean political conference in Four-Power meeting, and said this was why Soviets in reply8 had emphasized Chinese participation. He laid blame for nonconvening of Korean Political Conference upon failure of United Nations to consult Chinese and Korean Communists and disregard of facts, the proposal that USSR take part in conference, although it was non-belligerent.

Molotov concluded that exchange of views had shown there was no common viewpoint on Five-Power Conference. He understood Dulles to be opposed to conference which was to discuss wide issues, but as leaving way open to discussion of certain specific Asiatic problems, such as Korea and Indochina at such conference. He [Page 844] understood Bidault’s position as being that, if Five-Power Conference could contribute to easing of international tensions, it would be of value. Bidault had referred to certain Northeast and Southeast Asian problems, to solution of which he recognized Five-Power Conference could contribute.

Molotov said that Five-Power Conference, including Chinese Communists could play part of intermediary in large questions of international interest where such a role would be useful.

Molotov said that Eden had not put forward any objections which could not be overcome. He believed further exchange of views could delimit questions to be considered in Five-Power Conference, and suggested further consideration of principal questions put forward by Soviet delegation and questions of particular urgency in Asia.

After recess for refreshment, Eden suggested that in view of lateness of hour and probable desire Ministers to make further observations after reflection, discussion should be adjourned to following day.

  1. Repeated to London, Paris, Bonn, Frankfurt, Vienna, and Moscow.
  2. The U.S. Delegation verbatim record of the third meeting, USDEL PLEN/3, is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 193.
  3. For this proposal, see Secto 29, Document 359.
  4. For Secretary Dulles’ statement, see Secto 31, infra.
  5. For Foreign Secretary Eden’s statement, see Cmd. 9080, pp. 23–24.
  6. For Molotov’s statement, see Berlin Discussions, pp. 34–40.
  7. Document 279.
  8. Document 280.