396.1 BE/2–854

No. 442
United States Delegation Record of the First Restricted Meeting of the Berlin Conference, February 8, 1954, 3–7:05 p.m.1

  • Present: U.S.
    • Secretary Dulles
    • Mr. MacArthur
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Mr. Bohlen
  • France
    • Mr. Bidault
    • Mr. Parodi
    • Mr. De Margerie
    • Mr. Andronikow
  • U.K.
    • Mr. Eden
    • Mr. Roberts
    • Mr. Allen
    • Major Birse
  • USSR
    • Mr. Molotov
    • Mr. Gromyko
    • Mr. Malik
    • Mr. Troyanovski

Mr. Bidault who was in the chair opened the meeting by stating that this was a restricted session called to deal with the points under Item 1 of the agenda and certain procedural matters. He called on Mr. Eden.

Mr. Eden said that he did not have much to say at this stage. He was glad that Mr. Molotov had desired to discuss this topic in restricted session since in his view the Far East was as important as Europe. He did not think that a five-power conference with a broad agenda was a good method to deal with the Far Eastern question and, therefore, he did not agree with the Soviet position. There [Page 992] were, however, a number of specific problems in the Far East and a practical approach to these seemed to him to be the best method. For example: After three years an armistice had been achieved in Korea which provided for a political conference; but for six months now agreement on the political conference had not been reached. In Indochina the fighting was going on and while it was not for him to speak on this point, he thought this was another of the specific topics which might be dealt with rather than a conference with a wide agenda.

Mr. Molotov said that it seemed they had the following questions before them. The first point was the five-power conference as proposed by the Soviet Delegation.2 They should discuss the agenda and the date of that conference. Naturally, the Soviet Delegation liked its own proposal but there might be different views on this subject. It would, therefore, be desirable to hear the views of the other Ministers on these points and there might be other proposals. He added they should bear in mind that [in] a five-power conference any of the participating nations could bring up any questions they desired.

The second question was that dealing with the reduction of armaments. There was a Soviet and a French proposal on this point.3 He could only say that the French proposal appeared to them impractical since it would leave matters in their present state. It would refer the matter to the UN Commission but this would hardly produce fruitful results in the light of past experience. The Soviet proposal was more practical since it named a specific date. He would like to have the views of his colleagues on this question during this meeting.

The Secretary said he had only a few words to say at this time in regard to the practical problems in Asia which might be dealt with by any conference and that later he would speak on the subject of disarmament. Since they are meeting in restricted session this afforded them an opportunity to speak very frankly in order to permit greater understanding. He, therefore, wished to state that the United States Government was not prepared to accept the Communist Chinese regime as one of the five great powers and any proposal, however indirect, to that effect would not be acceptable to the United States. This is not merely the view of a number of people only, or even of the present administration or President Eisenhower, but is strongly held by the nation and particularly in Congress by both Democrats and Republicans. It is inconceivable, [Page 993] therefore, that any administration could depart from the views he had expressed. He said he would not go into the reasons behind this position since they were well known and would merely start a debate which would not be productive here. The United States recognizes that Communist China is a fact and that there are certain areas where this fact must be taken into account and dealt with as such, but not, however, in such a way as to increase the authority and prestige of a regime that has fought the United States and continuously builds up the propaganda of hate against the United States. We would, therefore, deal with this regime on specific questions which might be conducive to the re-establishment of peace in Asia. Proceeding from that premise he said he had a proposal to make and he circulated a document in English, French and Russian (Attachment no. 14). He said that when his colleagues had had time to read the paper he would be glad to hear their views, but in the meantime he could offer the following explanatory comments:

Paragraph one was self-explanatory since no one would deny the need to establish by peaceful means the unification of Korea and the desirability of bringing peace to other parts of Asia.

Paragraph two is simple and factual in that it took note of the difficulties which had arisen in connection with the political conference on Korea despite the fact that the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 at which time it was expected that a political conference would take place within three months but now almost seven months had passed. This paragraph also referred to the resolution of the UN which should not cause difficulties since, as he recalled, all four nations had voted for it.

Paragraph three involves using the authority and influence of the four powers here to convoke the political conference. This suggestion might eliminate one of the difficulties encountered at Panmunjom—namely, the status and manner of participation of the Soviet Union at the political conference. It has been the strong desire of the United States that the USSR should be a participant not only because of its influence in the situation but also because of the fact that any results should be accepted by the Soviet Union. Under this formula the Soviet Union would be one of the sponsors of the conference and thus would avoid the problem of which side it should represent. It will be noted that this third paragraph contains two blanks for a place and date. He said he would be glad to make suggestions on these two points later because he believed that the four of them could agree here. They could get acceptance from other countries but he would do this later since he felt, if they could reach substantive agreement here, the problem of date and place would not be difficult.

[Page 994]

The fourth paragraph deals with the war in Indochina. It is naturally a desire of all those who bear even any part of the heavy burden which this war involved to see peace restored. It is also of interest to all peace-loving countries to see an end put to a war which has gone on already seven or eight years. The question of whether or not it is proper to consider calling a conference on Indochina can only be examined after the Chinese Communist regime had shown a greater will for peace than in the past. He said he was aware of the fact that Mr. Molotov had cited the conclusion of an armistice as evidence of the Chinese desire for peace. The Secretary felt, however, that it was not so much a desire for peace that led the Chinese Communists to this position, since at any time in the past two years they could have brought it about, but rather a desire to avoid ultimate serious defeat. He was not asking Mr. Molotov to accept this interpretation of these historical events but merely wished to mention it as the view of the United States Government. The subsequent conduct of the Chinese Communists in carrying out the terms of the armistice and the stream of hatred against the United States continuously poured out from the highest sources in that regime gave grounds for doubting the peace-loving character of the Chinese Communists. The French Government has on numerous occasions, including this conference, expressed similar views in regard to the necessity for demonstration of Chinese intentions in regard to the situation in Southeast Asia. Both of these points of view are expressed in the paragraph to which he was referring and both are indispensable from the point of view of the United States. The Secretary added that the final paragraph specifies that the calling of a conference does not alter the existing situation in regard to diplomatic recognition—that is, it does not mean that the USSR is recognizing the Chinese Communist or North Korean regimes. He concluded that it has not been easy for the United States to make this proposal and no doubt there would be criticism for having done so, but we have tried very sincerely to find a basis for—or to put it more accurately—the terms on which the four powers could contribute to the establishment of peace in a situation where in one case there was merely a precarious armistice and in the other there was actual warfare. Having gone as far as we can, it was his hope that his colleagues would be able to go along on this basis which would demonstrate that when the four powers got together they were capable of constructive action which could do much to restore confidence in international relations. He added that the US proposal went as far as it could without doing violence to certain fundamental principles which we were not prepared to abandon.

Bidault then inquired whether the other Ministers would like time to study this proposal or whether they should continue the debate.

Mr. Molotov suggested they proceed to make their comments in turn.

Mr. Bidault then said that this proposal was a substantial contribution and contained several positive elements. The French Delegation [Page 995] therefore, approved it. Going back to the origin of this subject, the French Delegation did not believe that a proposal for a five-power conference including China was consistent with the attitude and behavior of the Chinese Communist Government. The French Delegation considered that a conference of five was not by its nature a meeting to deal with specific questions. The present proposal contained formulas which would help surmount certain difficulties and afforded a basis upon which Communist China could be included. The suggestion in regard to the calling of the Korean political conference seemed to be satisfactory. Insofar as Indochina was concerned the French Government had already said that it would seize any opportunity for a peace with honor which would safeguard the rights of the inhabitants of Indochina but the attitude of the Chinese Communists raised a problem since everyone knew that the Chinese were contributing in a very material sense to the struggle in Indochina by supplying the Vietminh forces with arms, provisions and instruction. The Chinese Communist regime thus bore a heavy responsibility for the continuance of the war in Indochina and must give some evidence of its desire for peace. France has done this. At the last session here it was stated that time was needed for reflection. He said that the French Government was prepared to re-examine the problem of Communist China when the Chinese Communist regime had re-examined its attitude toward Indochina.

Mr. Eden said he had always felt that if there was to be any meeting on the Far East, it must satisfy three conditions: (1) It must deal with the subject in a practical manner; (2) All interested countries should be involved; and (3) The problems to be considered should be specific. He felt that all three conditions were met by Mr. Dulles’ proposal and he welcomed it and believed on this basis progress could be made out of the deadlock in which they found themselves.

Mr. Molotov said that they were considering Chinese participation in a five power conference without China being present and this should not be forgotten. He said that he had before him a statement of January 29 in which Chou En-lai had declared that the Chinese Government supported the Soviet proposals for a five-power conference. The Chinese attitude towards other types of conferences at which they were to be present was not known and, therefore, they should obtain the views of the Chinese Government on this point.

Mr. Dulles’ proposal contains certain accusations against the Chinese People’s Republic. If the Chinese were here they would be able to answer, but the Soviet Union could not associate itself with these accusations which were presented in the absence of China. [Page 996] They believed that those who accused China were more to blame themselves. In any event, accusations gave rise to counter accusations and he did not think that these accusations should be made here.

On specific points he stated that in regard to paragraph three (paragraph two in our enumeration) he must state that the Soviet Delegation in the UN had voted not for but against that resolution. Paragraph four (our three) was merely a repetition of an old proposal for the composition of the political conference which the Soviet Government had opposed and continues to oppose. Paragraph five (our four) excludes Communist China which would not be wise and for that reason alone was unsatisfactory.

To sum up, this proposal is not acceptable as a basis for agreement. The Soviet Delegation suggests that we should renounce accusations and not put forward proposals which would make agreement more difficult. Mr. Molotov continued that although Mr. Eden and Mr. Bidault approved Mr. Dulles’ proposal, he felt that they should consider a different approach to the problem. In regard to Mr. Bidault’s remarks, this was not the first time that Mr. Bidault had accused the Chinese People’s Republic of aiding Vietminh. Statements of this kind could be made at a meeting where the Chinese were present so that they could reply to the accusation and give explanations. The Soviet proposal had in view a five-power conference with a wider scope of questions as they all knew, but another path might be followed which would unfold a narrow range of questions. At the same time it should be borne in mind that all participants at the five-power conference could explain their views on any question which might contribute to a better understanding. There were two matters which had been mentioned: namely, Korea and Indochina. A five-power conference could give appropriate attention to these questions.

The Secretary stated that Mr. Molotov seemed to have misunderstood his proposal. On paragraph four, it is true that the question of convoking a conference would be decided without preliminary consultation with the Chinese Communists, the North Koreans or ROK or other interested countries. But he had thought it appropriate for the four powers to take an initiative in calling a conference, as indicated, particularly since the Soviet resolution on disarmament envisaged the four powers taking a comparable initiative in regard to inviting other powers. Mr. Molotov appears to have misunderstood the meaning of paragraph five. Although the four powers would take the initiative, the other countries, like Communist China and the Associated States, would be invited to restore peace in Indochina if the conditions indicated were met. He said he had tried to avoid offensive and vituperative statements in order [Page 997] not to compromise the success of this meeting. He had made it clear that he did not expect Mr. Molotov to accept the interpretation held by the United States but he merely wished to be clear that this was the opinion of his Government. He did not desire to argue the point here.

Mr. Bidault said he did not think there were any accusations against the Chinese Communists in this proposal. There was, however, a desire to see them give evidence of a pacific spirit. Mr. Molotov had said that the Chinese should come and explain these things. The facts, however, are very clear and, until Chinese intervention in Indochina ceases, no further explanations are needed. It is not a question of explanation; their actions are very clear and they are unpleasant. If the Chinese should change their actions we could see things in a different light. There is no ambiguity in regard to what the Chinese Communists are doing in Indochina. He added that Mr. Molotov preferred a five-power conference with a broad field but that his indication that there might be a more limited range of questions was precisely what Mr. Dulles’ proposal suggested. France is interested in peace and felt that the proper procedure was to begin at the beginning and not at the end.

Mr. Eden stated that Mr. Molotov was correct in pointing out that the Soviet Delegation had voted against the August 28 resolution but he felt they should not accept the principle that just because they had voted against the resolution once they would have to abide by it eternally. He mentioned in this connection the UK negative vote on a UN resolution because it did not include India, but nonetheless the UK had accepted the will of the majority. In regard to paragraph four, he said that Communist China had already accepted the principle of a political conference and in regard to paragraph five agreed with Mr. Dulles’ interpretation that China would be invited.

Mr. Molotov stated that Mr. Dulles had indicated that China and other countries would be invited to the conference, but would it be wise to take a decision to invite China and then have that country refuse. He felt this would be inadvisable. We should be certain in advance that any such invitation would be acceptable to the Chinese. Mr. Eden had said he recalled that the Soviet Union had voted against the August 28 resolution but he apparently believes the Soviet Government should change its position. This advice he found curious since he did not see how you could vote one day against something and then the next day for it if your attitude towards it had not changed. He also understood Mr. Eden to say that China had voted for the political conference which was inaccurate since China was not present and did not accept the composition of the political conference as set forth in the resolution.

[Page 998]

In regard to paragraph five Mr. Dulles had said that it does not exclude Chinese participation in the conference. We could not accuse China in China’s absence and then take these accusations as a basis for an invitation. China would not accept an invitation on such terms. He said the Soviet Government held diametrically contradictory views on Communist China and their right to participate in a five-power conference.

He said Mr. Bidault had stated that he does not require explanations from China concerning Vietnam. That is his right. Any document from this meeting could not express the views merely of one or another of the Ministers but must be acceptable to all of them. The proposal of Mr. Dulles was one-sided and contained accusations which would inevitably lead to counter-accusations which would not advance matters. The Soviet Delegation had already expressed its views on the five-power conference but could agree to the following: that all complex questions between the five powers and other countries should not be raised. Naturally, if Korea was considered at a five-power conference, both Korean regimes should be there; and if Vietnam is considered, all parties concerned should take part if necessary. There must, however, be an agreed proposal which would be acceptable to China and they must try to work out an agreed formula to that end.

The Secretary said he was somewhat perplexed as to exactly what to say at this point. He had made a proposal which he hoped would be acceptable and which contained what he regarded as real concessions. As he understood it, however, the Soviet Government had rejected this proposal. The Soviet Foreign Minister had vaguely hinted that he might accept some modifications of his five-power proposal in regard to an agenda and possible participation in order to examine specific questions. As he understood Mr. Molotov’s view, the hard core of the conference would be the five powers including the Chinese Communist regime. The United States believes that Communist China, a proclaimed and declared aggressor by the UN, is not entitled to that position. We agree with the French Foreign Minister who said that the attitude of the Chinese Communist regime is such that its peace-loving intentions cannot be accepted until there is some demonstration to that effect. Therefore the United States Delegation would be unable to accept the proposal of the Soviet Delegation even with the modifications vaguely hinted at by Mr. Molotov.

Mr. Bidault then said, as Chairman, he thought the situation was as follows: The Soviet Delegation objects to paragraph three because of the mention of the UN resolution. Perhaps this is not a substantial difference. In regard to the next paragraph the Soviet Delegation rejects it because it is an old proposal which it has opposed. [Page 999] The Soviet Delegation also suggests that we should ask the Chinese before inviting them. However, it seemed to him that if the Chinese should reject the invitation, it would be because they would only participate in a conference of five powers. The French Delegation has never accepted the idea of a five-power conference for its own sake but has in mind a conference on its merits and he could only repeat the desirability of starting at the beginning and not at the end. In regard to paragraph five, the French Delegation wants some evidence of peaceful intention, not to be stated here but on the spot. He then inquired where the discussions stood: namely, if Mr. Dulles’ proposal was accepted or rejected.

Mr. Eden said, in regard to paragraph three, he felt that it was most important that the countries which had contributed forces in Korea be included. He could not accept a document which excluded such countries.

Mr. Molotov said, first of all in regard to the five-power conference with the participation of China, Mr. Dulles had said that such a conference would not be acceptable to the United States because the UN had branded the Chinese People’s Republic as an aggressor. The Soviet Union has directly opposite views and felt this resolution was unjust, unfounded and undermined the authority of the UN. The differences now are so great that it is hardly worthwhile to raise this point if we wish to create favorable conditions for the reduction of international tension. He stated that in its present form the draft could not afford the basis for agreement. If radically amended, and given a desire to meet each other, they might find a solution on its basis. Mr. Molotov added that in regard to specific comments, he understood that paragraph three might be amended to exclude the reference to the August 28 resolution. Mr. Bidault said they should begin at the beginning in regard to Indochina. He wished to point out that events there had begun before the Chinese People’s Republic had been in existence and that this was the heart of the matter and therefore it was clear who was responsible and attempts should not be made to shift the blame to others; that in his view, in order not to make matters more difficult, paragraph five should be deleted. As for paragraph four, Mr. Eden had said that this should be accepted since it agreed with the armistice terms. He did not believe this was correct, but on the contrary paragraph four should not be accepted because it does not agree with the views of some of the representatives here. He said it was perfectly clear that the USSR did not have any connection with either side in the Korean hostilities and therefore could not attend a conference in the capacity suggested. He concluded that they should attempt to find some formula which all at this table could accept.

[Page 1000]

The Secretary said Mr. Molotov, as he understood his remarks, was suggesting such radical changes to his proposal as to amount to mutilation. Paragraph six, [was acceptable?] but paragraphs three, four and five were not, although three might be made acceptable by the elimination of the reference to the UN resolution. He did not regard this as a fatal blow to the proposal. Mr. Molotov, however, rejects paragraph four but does not propose any substitute and he would eliminate paragraph five entirely. Following Mr. Molotov’s amendments we would have a very feeble effort. He did not know what substitutes, if any, Mr. Molotov had in mind. It would hardly seem that Mr. Molotov had accepted his proposal as a basis for argument if his amendments in reality mean that all substance is eliminated. Mr. Molotov said he had reminded them that the events in Indochina began before the Chinese Communist regime had seized power. That was true, but it was equally true that had it not been for the Chinese Communist intervention, the situation would have been terminated long ago. He merely wished to state the obvious; namely, that in order to have peace, one must stop making war. He stated that there seemed to be agreement on the first and second paragraphs, the third could be modified but that four and five were the chief difficulty. Perhaps the best thing would be to consider that they had gone as far as they could this afternoon and to turn the page and to proceed to the other topic they had before them.

Mr. Eden inquired whether Mr. Molotov believed that countries which had contributed armed forces in Korea should be included in the Korean conference.

Mr. Molotov said there were certain paragraphs on which no views were expressed. Although these were less complicated, they still needed additional study and perhaps they would not cause great difficulty. He said Mr. Eden had asked whether others could take part. Any interested country could take part provided we reached agreement on the calling of a five-power conference. If we don’t agree on a five-power conference the reply to Mr. Eden’s question will be unclear since it is not clear how matters stand.

Mr. Bidault then said it was getting late, that we were not making any progress and that there were other matters to discuss. He therefore suggested that they should turn to them with the possibility of coming back to this item. He mentioned also that on the disarmament point there were two resolutions, French and Soviet, and in addition the procedural question concerning the third item on their agenda which was very urgent because of the problem of inviting the Austrians. He said there would be a plenary session tomorrow and that they could possibly take up Austria Wednesday or Thursday; or he said they could have the plenary session on Germany [Page 1001] tomorrow and Wednesday there could be another restricted session with Austria on Thursday.

Mr. Eden stated that he thought in view of the forty-eight hours necessary to notify the Austrians, Thursday might be a good day.

Mr. Molotov proposed Friday.

The Secretary said he preferred Thursday. At this point the Secretary asked the indulgence of the Chairman, to state that the United States Delegation might find it necessary to submit the proposal he had made today as a public conference document since the Soviet proposal on this point had been so treated.

Mr. Molotov said that was up to the United States.

Mr. Bidault added that they were all free to do what they like in regard to their own proposals.

After a further exchange in regard to Austria it was agreed that the Austrians would be heard not later than Friday and possibly Thursday; that the invitations could be sent out, from Mr. Bidault as Chairman, to that effect to the Austrians.5

During the discussion on Austria Mr. Molotov emphasized they had not yet completed discussion on Germany and that he thought two or three more days of discussion on this point was necessary since everybody agreed that this was the most important subject before them. In regard to a future closed meeting, while Mr. Bidault had suggested Wednesday for a closed meeting for continuance of discussion on point one, Mr. Molotov said he felt it unnecessary to set a date for a closed meeting in advance since that could always be done on short notice as no preparations were involved. There was accordingly no date set for a restricted meeting.

The Ministers agreed that there should be no press briefing and accepted the text of an agreed communiqué.6 The meeting broke up at 7:05 p.m.

  1. A summary of this restricted meeting was transmitted in Dulte 53 from Berlin, Feb. 9. (396.1 BE/2–854)
  2. For the Soviet proposal, see Secto 29, Document 359.
  3. For the Soviet proposal, see Secto 43, Document 376. For the French proposal, see FPM(54)15, Document 509.
  4. No copy of this document was found attached to the source text. The summary referred to in footnote 1 above indicates that it was the draft transmitted in Dulte 44. Document 436.
  5. For Bidault’s note to Chancellor Raab, Feb. 8, see Berlin Discussions, p. 175.
  6. The text of the communiqué circulated as FPM(54)42, was transmitted in Secto 106 from Berlin, Feb. 9. (396.1 BE/2–954)