Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 205

No. 381
Minutes of a Meeting of the United States Delegation at the Berlin Conference, January 29, 1954, 9:30 a.m.

  • Present: The Secretary
  • Special Advisers
  • Advisers

Tripartite Working Group Meeting

Mr. Morris reported that a tripartite meeting of German experts was held last evening on the general plan for German elections and the formation of an all-German government.1 The group considered [Page 868] several minor drafting changes intended to make the draft more palatable to the Germans. Mr. Schwartz added that the Germans apparently felt that the Three Powers had not left sufficient bargaining room in connection with this problem and that, as a negotiating tactic, additional elements should be introduced from which we could retreat in face of Soviet opposition.

Press Reaction

Mr. Tyler reported that the tone of the French press on the whole was constructive and helpful. Except for the Communist press, there was no criticism of the conduct of the negotiations to date by the three Foreign Ministers. A few papers took the line that the Secretary’s statement yesterday was intended primarily for U.S. domestic consumption.2 A general thread running through most press comments is the hope that something will be realized, not necessarily a Five-Power Conference, which will help in a solution of the Indo China problem.

Mr. Lochner reported that there had been no significant German editorial reaction. The general press treatment is that: 1) the West has gotten over the first hurdle; and 2) an expression of hope that the four Ministers will soon take up the German problem.

Only one paper (SPD) objected to the strong tone of the Secretary’s statement in yesterday’s meeting.

Mr. Jackson commented that the U.S. press reaction was wide and varied and that the general tone was good. There was strong praise for the forceful tone and positive position taken by the Secretary. He added that he had obtained the impression from discussions with press correspondents last night that they had not sensed the real importance of what took place in the plenary session yesterday—the extent of unity of the Three Powers on the issue which was most likely to split them apart. Mr. MacArthur pointed out that a BBC correspondent had taken the line that the West was caught by surprise by Molotov’s tabling of the proposal on world reduction of armaments. He thought we might informally correct this line, since we have always assumed that the Soviets would inject their standard battery of proposals for reducing international tensions.

Preparation for Quadripartite Session

Secretary Dulles observed that the delegation had a considerable procedural problem facing it. While the three Ministers desired to commence immediately with the discussion of the German problem, the afternoon session would open with the Soviet disarmament [Page 869] proposal outstanding. He said that he would meet with Messrs. Eden and Bidault before the afternoon session to work out our tactics.3 His preliminary thought was that he, as Chairman, could call first on Mr. Bidault, who would then launch the discussion on the German item. A question was raised as to whether we should consider tabling a series of proposals: for example, the proposal for a world conference on slave labor. The Secretary replied that the phrasing of the first agenda item permits the tabling of any proposal which a Minister believed constituted a cause of tension. However, we would have to consider the above possibility in relation to our desire to move quickly to a discussion of the German and Austrian problems.

  1. For a record of this meeting, see Secto 50, Document 379.
  2. Regarding Secretary Dulles’ statement at the fourth plenary meeting, see Secto 43, Document 376.
  3. No record of Secretary Dulles’ meeting with Bidault and Eden on Jan. 29 has been found in Department of State files.