396.1 BE/1–2954: Telegram

No. 376
The United States Delegation at the Berlin Conference to the Department of State1

confidential priority

Secto 43. Department pass OSD. Following is summary of first portion of fourth meeting Foreign Ministers, chaired by Molotov, held January 28.2 This telegram covers course of session from 1500 to 1640 hours, during which period Secretary Dulles, Bidault and Eden in turn addressed themselves critically to Molotov’s long statement yesterday in support of Soviet proposal re agenda item 1 (five-power conference), at Molotov’s suggestion meeting recessed at 1640 hours.

In response to Molotov’s invitation after opening meeting for further expression of views on agenda item discussed yesterday, Secretary delivered prepared statement, full text of which transmitted by separate telegram.3 Highlights of Secretary’s statement were:

His measured denunciation of Chou En-lai as a leader of regime guilty of many crimes, including open aggression;
His detailed exposition documented by many references to UN Charter, of thesis that arrangement proposed by Molotov would have net effect of superseding and replacing United Nations with a Council of “so-called five great powers”; and
His renewed suggestion that meeting now move on to discussion of the other agenda items relating to Germany and Austria.

Bidault then spoke at some length.4 Main burden of his statement was that there was neither a legal nor a moral basis for a five-power conference having scope proposed by Molotov. He reiterated that while UN Charter entrusted certain powers with special responsibilities, it did not give them special rights or powers; thus Article 24 made it clear that Security Council acted as collective entity in name of all member nations. He further said it was clear that CPR had not measured up to obligations of member nations imposed by Article 2 of UN Charter.

[Page 859]

Bidault then spent some time in challenging wide scope of issues proposed by Molotov for consideration at five-power conference. Thus, he once again emphasized that reduction and international control of armaments were matters for UN and said that in any event problem of disarmament was subordinate to cessation of hostilities. He also made point that principal reasons for present absence of single world market were restrictive trade practices which had been adopted by Soviet bloc and Molotov’s refusal in 1947 to participate in plan which could have led to economic integration of all Europe; as for unrestricted trade between France and China latter could herself understand French refusal to deliver goods which could later be used in hostilities against French forces.

As for various political problems mentioned by Molotov, Bidault said they could be settled by diplomatic negotiations or through other mechanism already in existence; big need was for good will, concrete evidence of which France was still awaiting from Chinese Communists and which it had reason to doubt as result of Chinese actions in Korea and Indochina Wars. Bidault said he wished to emphasize again what he had said previously on numerous occasions—that France desired peace everywhere and that it was ready to avail itself of every opportunity to bring about peace in Indochina, in agreement with the Associated States; “any form of conversation in any guise at all which would make it possible to accomplish real progress toward reestablishment of peace would be welcome to us.” But he had sought in vain in Molotov’s statement for indication that proposed five-power conference had any relation to establishment of just and equitable peace for all in Korea or Southeast Asia.

In conclusion Bidault said that what was needed was more reflection and exercise of imagination. He inquired whether his colleagues could not agree that no matter how far apart their positions might be at the moment there was still not an absolute impossibility of reconciling these viewpoints at least on certain matters.

In relatively brief statement5 Eden reiterated his opposition to broad scope of issues proposed for discussion at five-power conference and said it was necessary to tackle certain specific problems in proper order. It was not possible to assign to a few powers responsibility for settlement of issues affecting entire world, such as reduction of armaments (a matter for UNO) and development of international trade. As for Asian political problems, Korea and Indochina were of special concern and he was prepared to continue [Page 860] search for some method of facilitating practical solutions of these problems. Eden said we needed to face stern realities of situation and engage in some hard, clear thinking. He therefore proposed that when present round of speeches completed, meeting defer further consideration of first item on agenda and pass on to questions of Germany and Austria; meanwhile all could reflect further re item 1 and if progress were made on other items we could come back to first item at later date.

Meeting then recessed briefly at Molotov’s suggestion.

Following summary second part January 28 meeting:

Molotov called meeting to order and proceeded to make speech on reduction international tension. Main line was that proposal for five-power conference not incompatible with UN Charter and that conference could discuss both broad and specific questions (such as East-West trade and reduction of armaments). He also replied to Secretary’s earlier speech on Communist China. After Molotov’s speech, exchange between Ministers resulted in agreement they have further exchange of views at restricted meeting.

Introducing comments on relationship five-power conference to UN Charter, Molotov said that Soviet Union likes Charter as it is and hopes that it will not be changed but implemented. He then made reference to several resolutions passed by United Nations (one in 1948 and another in 1950) and said these called upon permanent members of Security Council to meet from time to time. He drew from this inference that Soviet proposal for five power conference was in line with wishes of UN. He also pointed out that 1950 resolution was adopted year after Chinese People’s Republic was established.

Molotov then said that while there were various opinions as to when five-power conference should be held and its agenda, it would be wrong to limit scope of conference because it could be used to solve both broad and specific questions. These could include reduction of armaments, including the question of atomic energy, and East-West trade, particularly end of embargo on trade with China.

As far as reduction of armaments was concerned, Molotov said that while it was true that this was in competence of United Nations, five powers should assist in solution this problem. He referred then to working paper regarding arms reduction introduced in the United Nations Commission on Disarmament on May 28, 19526 by the United Kingdom on behalf of the United States, United Kingdom and France and claimed this lent support to his thesis that five powers should set pace on disarmament. He concluded [Page 861] his remarks this subject by saying that the Soviet Union would table a resolution on it at this conference.

Molotov turned then to defense of Chinese People’s Republic, pointing out that CPR was not present to defend itself. He advised Dulles that if he would consult people who knew, such as Eden, rather than “dummy” Kuomintang, he would change his views. Molotov insisted further that rather than CPR being aggessor state, it was victim of aggression.

Molotov concluded speech by asking for agreement following conclusion: Proposal for five-power conference is not declined, although aims of such conference not agreed upon and need further study.

Secretary Dulles spoke next and said that in order avoid any misunderstanding he wished to state that United States does not agree to five-power conference which would include Chinese Communist regime. He added that the United States is not opposed to meeting representatives of that regime with respect to matters where, as practical fact, we have to deal with it. Such conference would not be five-power conference, however, because matters on which useful deal with Communist China would involve other powers. He pointed as example to Korea where it was essential have Republic of Korea represented. Since other countries had shared burden in Korea, they also entitled to participate. Secretary said further study required to determine whether possible to reconcile his position with Molotov’s. This reinforced his proposal to pass on to discussion other agenda items.

Bidault, on other hand, said it was possible to conclude that conversations concerning Asia, in which all states concerned would be represented on specific questions has not been rejected. As far as nature of these conversations and the participants therein concerned, he felt this required further time for consideration.

Eden agreed that since there was no agreement on five-power conference, he also felt it best to move on to other agenda items.

Molotov then said that while there was no agreement question under discussion, there was evidently desire to continue quest for such an agreement. He then raised question whether committee might be set up to work on this matter while Foreign Ministers went on to “the consideration of other questions”. Dulles replied that while he was not opposed to committee if others felt this desirable, he felt it better for heads of delegations to discuss matter between formal sessions. Bidault and Eden agreed it would be better discuss question informally among heads of delegations. When Secretary Dulles suggested restricted meeting of Ministers be held next week, Molotov said that since there were doubts regarding committee, Soviet delegation would reserve right to re-submit such [Page 862] a proposal at restricted meeting suggested by Secretary and supported by Eden and Bidault.

Molotov then submitted following resolution on the reduction of armaments:

“Convocation of a world conference on the general reduction of armaments (proposal of the USSR delegation).

“The Governments of the USA, the United Kingdom, France and the USSR, guided by the desire to strengthen peace and reduce tension in international relations, considering it necessary to take measures to relieve the heavy burden of military expenditure borne by the people in connection with the armament race, have agreed that the Soviet Union, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France would take measures within the framework of the United Nations to convene in 1954 a world conference on the general reduction of armaments with the participation of both the members of the United Nations and the non-member states.

“Full agreement has also been reached that the plan of measures for the general reduction of armaments would be linked up with a simultaneous solution of the problem of atomic weapons.”7

When he had finished reading resolution, he asked if anyone wanted to speak on subject tonight. Dulles proposed that meeting adjourn and, since neither Eden nor Bidault wanted say anything further at that time, meeting adjourned.

  1. Transmitted in two sections. Repeated to London, Paris, Bonn, Moscow, and Vienna.
  2. The U.S. Delegation verbatim record of the fourth plenary meeting, USDEL PLEN/4, is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 193.
  3. Secto 42 from Berlin, Jan. 28 (396.1 BE/1–2854); for Secretary Dulles’ statement, circulated as FPM(54)10, see Berlin Discussions, pp. 40–43, or Cmd. 9080, pp. 24–26.
  4. For Bidault’s statement, circulated as FPM (54)13, see Berlin Discussions, pp. 43–48, or Cmd. 9080, pp. 27–31.
  5. For Eden’s statement, circulated as FPM(54)11, see Berlin Discussions, pp. 48–50, or Cmd. 9080, pp. 26–27.
  6. For this proposal, see AFP, vol. II, pp. 2760–2764, or Department of State Bulletin, June 9, 1952, pp. 910–911.
  7. This proposal, with slightly different wording, was circulated as FPM(54)12 in the records of the conference.