396.1 BE/2–1554

No. 485
United States Delegation Record of the Fourth Restricted Meeting of the Berlin Conference, February 15, 1954, 11 a.m.1

  • Present: United States
    • Secretary Dulles
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Mr. Nash
    • Mr. Bohlen
  • France
    • Mr. Bidault
    • Mr. Parodi
    • Mr. De Margerie
    • Mr. Andronikow
  • United Kingdom
    • Mr. Eden
    • Mr. Roberts
    • Mr. Allen
    • Mr. Birse
  • USSR
    • Mr. Molotov
    • Mr. Gromyko
    • Mr. Malik
    • Mr. Troyanovski
[Page 1110]

The Secretary, as Chairman, said he understood that this restricted meeting was for further discussion on point one of the agenda. There was before them the matter of a resolution concerning one or more conferences on Far Eastern matters and also there was still the problem of disarmament. He inquired whether his colleagues wished to continue the discussion on the possible Far Eastern conference. He pointed out, however, that at some time they would have to deal with the question of disarmament.

Mr. Bidault stated that the French Delegation was ready to talk on this proposal concerning disarmament but he felt that they had not clarified the situation which resulted from their last session on Asiatic problems. Consequently, they had an interest in continuing discussion of that question.

Mr. Eden agreed that the Far Eastern conference should be discussed.

Mr. Molotov also agreed and said that there should be later an exchange of views on the disarmament conference.

Mr. Bidault said that there was some uncertainty after their last discussion as to exactly what was the substance of the Soviet amendments to their original proposal, particularly in regard to paragraph 5 of their draft and its relation to paragraph 3 of the French proposal.2 He said it seemed obvious to the French Delegation that there would have to be a different composition for the discussions of the two subjects they had in mind—namely, Korea and Indochina. He said he felt the reference which had been questioned by the Soviet Delegation to “favorable prospects for peace” in the French resolution was certainly clear as far as Communist China was concerned. What was needed was the creation of a favorable climate for the beginning of peace as against hostilities in Asia. This climate would affect the whole of Asia. In conclusion, if the Soviet proposal, as amended, in regard to the composition of these conferences was compatible with the French draft, he would be glad to examine it, but he wished to repeat that any text which gave China a privileged position was unacceptable.

Mr. Eden said he had nothing to say at this moment.

Mr. Molotov said for the Soviet Delegation he could say that they had put forward an amendment to their earlier proposal and that now he could circulate in written form the full text of their present proposal including these amendments. It was true that the original proposal was unclear with regard to the participants. For the consideration of the Korean question and the Indochinese question he felt that the draft which he was now circulating would clarify this [Page 1111] point and respond to Mr. Bidault’s statements (text of amended Soviet proposal attached3).

The Secretary asked if he could make a few observations. He said, as he interpreted the revised Soviet proposal, it contemplates a five-power conference which would then itself decide whether, when and under what conditions a conference on Korea and similarly a conference on Indochina would be held. The United States had made it clear that it would not participate in a five-power conference as such. The U.S. would be prepared to participate with other indispensable parties in a conference on Korea in which Communist China would also participate. The original U.S. proposal4 had contemplated that they here would actually call a conference to deal with the Korean question and this feature was also embodied in the French proposal. Both proposals contemplated a definite date and place for the meeting of the Korean conference, but both date and place were absent in the Soviet amended text. Furthermore, the Soviet proposal was unclear as to whether the list of states to attend the Korean conference was exclusive and was not subject to reexamination when the five powers meet. The U.S. and French texts contemplated a possible Indochinese conference if and when developments at the Korean political conference and in Southeast Asia showed favorable prospects for peace. This point is not contained in the Soviet proposal. In summary, the Soviet proposal seemed to us to settle nothing but merely contemplated, what apparently had been the Soviet aim from the beginning, transferring to the five-power conference the problems they were struggling with here. For these reasons the United States Delegation could not consider that the Soviet amended proposal was much of an advance.

Mr. Bidault said it was difficult offhand to give views on a proposal which on the surface was somewhat different but in substance appeared to differ little from the original text. It seemed to him that paragraph 4 concerning the participants in the conference and the conditions under which the various parties would meet was not clear. It should not, however, be impossible, taking into account what had been said at these meetings, to overcome these difficulties. Paragraph 5 (Indochina) was not acceptable to the French Delegation and paragraph 6 (final paragraph) was also rejected.

Mr. Eden stated that Mr. Dulles had clearly outlined the difficulties which they or at least he felt on reading the Soviet text. He [Page 1112] agreed with Mr. Bidault that these difficulties were conceivably reconcilable. On the Soviet agenda, point one was the political conference on Korea. He would like to be clear that when they assembled at this conference they would not begin to discuss a Korean political conference but that such a gathering would, in itself, be a political conference and would not merely consider if one was to be held. Then, if matters went reasonably well, as they would hope, there would follow at a later stage a conference on Indochina. When he said “we”, he meant not only the five powers but the other powers that would attend. As Mr. Molotov knew, he did not want the five powers in any way to have any special position of authority who would then discuss who else would be entitled to attend a Korean political conference.

Mr. Molotov said he wished to draw the attention of his colleagues to a difficulty which the Soviet Government faced and which should not be forgotten. If they were considering the matter of participation of the Chinese People’s Republic, they must be sure that their invitation would be acceptable to it. The Soviet Union is not in a position to speak for the Chinese Communists today and China should be asked if the proposal was acceptable to her. His second remark was that both the US and French proposals made discussion of Indochina dependent upon the Korean political conference. The Soviet Delegation did not understand this dependence. It was proposed that both subjects should be discussed but there was no decision as to whether the second question, Indochina, would be discussed since it was impossible to know in advance what would be the result of the discussions on Korea. We would not and could not know what the results of this discussion would be in advance. Mr. Dulles has raised a question as to date and place. The Soviet Delegation has already stated that this question presented a little difficulty and he would again say that it would not be hard to agree on these two points. In any event, a fortnight more or less would not be serious. The date and the place could be agreed after the composition had been decided. Mr. Dulles had said it was desirable to decide the membership here. The Soviet Delegation agreed, but they should be certain that their decision would be acceptable. The Soviet Delegation thought their proposal was clear concerning the composition of the Korean conference and they had, in fact, accepted the substance of the U.S. and French proposals on this point. The composition of the Indochinese conference had not been clarified but he believed that the wording of the Soviet proposal would present no difficulty in clarifying this point in a form acceptable to all four.

Mr. Bidault and Mr. Eden had criticized the last part of the Soviet proposal. This could be clarified. What would Mr. Bidault [Page 1113] suggest concerning the composition on point 2? If Mr. Eden objected to the composition on point 1, how would he propose to amend it? In any case, these details should present no great difficulty. Mr. Dulles said that it was difficult for the United States to accept a five-power conference. The Soviet Delegation understood this difficulty and has tried to make a proposal which would avoid this difficulty although their original proposal had provided for a five-power conference. The Soviet Government also had its difficulty and Mr. Eden had mentioned it. In considering the Korean conference, they could not agree to a proposal, the same as that contained in the UN resolution, which the Soviet Government had voted against and which was unacceptable to the Chinese People’s Republic. He felt, however, that both these difficulties could be overcome.

The Secretary said he appreciated the Soviet reference to the problem and certainly he would wish to reciprocate in the same spirit expressed by Mr. Molotov. In order to see if some acceptable formula could be found, he said he would appreciate it if Mr. Molotov could clarify three points in regard to paragraph four:

Which country would send out the invitations? Would it be the four of them here or would others be involved?
How does Communist China get invited?
Are countries referred to in the paragraph on the Korean conference the only countries who would be invited?

He said he had some other observations on other parts of the proposal to make, but would Mr. Molotov prefer to answer these questions now, or hear his other observations.

Mr. Molotov said he would be glad to hear Mr. Dulles’ other observations.

The Secretary stated the Soviet Foreign Minister had indicated that the questions of time and place could be settled when the composition had been agreed on. He would assume that the time and place, however, would be included in the invitation. Acceptance in some cases might depend on the time and the place. He said on the question of priority, in the U.S. and French drafts, of Korea over Indochina, he wished to state that in the U.S. view it was no priority at all. The problem of peace in Indochina was one of primary importance, but the first step towards peace in Indochina would be to find out if the intentions of the Chinese People’s Republic were peaceful. The most convenient way of finding this out, in his opinion, was to find out whether the Chinese were now willing to attend a conference on Korea as they had promised and also whether the Chinese People’s Republic was prepared to cease its military support to the Communist forces in the Associated States. These intentions could best be found out by ascertaining whether [Page 1114] the Chinese would accept and participate in a conference on Korea to which they had been committed and in informal conversations in connection with this conference which would undoubtedly take place there. He could not himself think of any quicker way of finding out the possibilities of peace in Indochina. Certainly it was the case in either the U.S. or French texts that it was contemplated there would be no Indochinese conference until the Korean question was settled. In this connection he concluded it was not clear from the Soviet text who would determine the persons or countries to be invited to the conference on the restoration of peace elsewhere in Asia. Would it be the four powers or five?

Mr. Molotov said he had one basic observation to make: If responsibility in any way was to be placed on the Chinese People’s Republic for events in Indochina, this would be unacceptable to the Soviet Union and the Soviet Delegation believed that the Chinese People’s Republic would not take part in any conference on that basis, as could be seen from statements their representatives had made. As to Mr. Dulles’ question as to who would invite the Chinese People’s Republic and others, this was an important question. If they were able to reach an agreement on the character of this conference, they could find the way out and agree on the form of invitation. The Soviet Delegation would like to have the preliminary views of its colleagues as to procedure on invitations. If this could be ascertained, he believed, in the next few days, they could ascertain the Chinese view and if there was no refusal they could then find the best form in which to address invitations to the Chinese People’s Republic and to other countries. One point remains unclear, and that is: Does Indochina depend on Korea? It was his impression that Mr. Dulles had not been definite on this subject nor was Mr. Bidault clear. The Soviet Delegation was prepared on the other questions raised by Mr. Dulles to do all it could to meet the views of the other delegations.

The Secretary said that the U.S. views were the same as those expressed in the French proposal on this point. If the atmosphere of the Korean conference and events in Southeast Asia showed favorable prospects for peace, then an Indochinese conference could be arranged. He had probably chosen the words badly when he said “no priority”. He meant no subordination of importance of the Indochinese question to Korea, but on point of time, the Korean political conference would presumably occur first since it had already been agreed in principle for seven months. The Chinese Communists’ participation in this conference would, in itself, be a step towards an Indochinese conference. Mr. Bidault said, if Mr. Molotov would permit him to say, the French government had no doubt as to the responsibility of Communist China for events in Indochina; [Page 1115] but, if he would be good enough to read the French text, he would see that no mention was made of this therein and in his opinion there was no need for anyone to talk about the feelings and views of the French Government on this point. In regard to the relative position of Korea and Indochina, he wished to say there was no subordination of Indochina to Korea but both questions were subordinate to the will for peace. It was useless to talk in any other terms than that of the need to establish peace. It was for this reason that the French text contained the terms to which Mr. Molotov previously referred: “favorable prospects for peace”. This covers the suspension and end to hostilities. In such a way we would be sure that no violation of peace is possible. In regard to paragraph 4, it seemed to him possible to assume from Mr. Molotov’s remarks that the problem of invitations could be resolved. He would say again to put Indochina in brackets was not appropriate for the one place in the world where war was still going on. The agenda as contained in the last paragraph was not acceptable to the French Delegation. In conclusion he could say that this subject was still very complicated but that the difficulties were not insurmountable and he hoped that they would be overcome.

Mr. Eden said that each of his colleagues had submitted a draft and upon reflection the British Delegation had felt the time had come for them to try also. He said he would have a text to distribute and apologized that the Russian text would not be ready for an hour. He stated that in his proposal the third paragraph in regard to Korea stated that the four Ministers in Berlin should propose a conference in Geneva on April 15, listing all countries who were to attend in order to avoid any distinction between them. In paragraph 4, concerning Indochina, it was clear that the Chinese People’s Republic would participate on an equal basis at that conference. Mr. Molotov said he could not speak for the Chinese. The British Delegation tried to meet his views on this point and he expected that Mr. Molotov would find this a reasonable proposal.5

Mr. Molotov said that, insofar as he was concerned, he would have to have the Russian text before him.

After some exchange it was agreed that they might go on to consider disarmament.


Mr. Bidault said that they had two resolutions: one French and one Soviet.6 The French text in his view avoided many of the difficulties [Page 1116] which were present in the Soviet text. There is a long history of discussion in the UN on this question and they have before them the precedent which they must think over. The Soviet proposal bore witness to the consistency of the Soviet Government on the question since a similar proposal had been put in five times, or, if not five, several times by Mr. Vishinsky in the United Nations. He felt they all were agreed on the principle of a new effort in the field of disarmament since they were all conscious of the financial and other burdens which armaments put on the peoples of their countries and that if some measures in this field could be adopted it would increase the well being of all peoples. A conference was not, in itself, a reality but a means and it would only justify the hopes placed on it if the preparations were adequate. If not, it would result in disillusionment. Five years of experience in Geneva had indicated that without proper preparations no results except war or armistice came out of such discussions. It was probable that these conferences had not been properly prepared. Reality must not be confused with method and the important thing was adequate preparation. The French Government felt that the proper place for such preparation was the Disarmament Commission in the UN. This is the essential theme of the French proposals.

Mr. Eden said he also had rather bitter memories of the Geneva Disarmament Conferences and he agreed with Mr. Bidault that it was useless and even dangerous to call a world conference until the basic principles had been agreed. He felt the proper method was to renew and intensify their efforts in the UN Commission in order to agree on these principles, which he thought was in accord with the wishes of the General Assembly, before calling a world conference. He repeated that without adequate preparation a world conference would be useless but that if the fundamental principles could be agreed on in the UN Commission then he would take a different view of calling a world conference.

Mr. Molotov said that in view of the lateness of the hour would it not be a good idea to postpone this discussion until their next restricted meeting.

Further procedures were then discussed and it was agreed that the next restricted meeting would be held in the ACA Building at 11 A.M. on Wednesday but that on Tuesday morning the experts of the four powers would get together for a discussion of the new British proposal on the Far Eastern Conference to report to the restricted meeting on Wednesday. The Soviet Delegation named Mr. Malik as their representative and the French Mr. Joxe. The British and American Delegations said they would name their representatives later.

  1. A summary of this meeting was transmitted in Dulte 79 from Berlin, Feb. 16. (Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 212)
  2. For text of the Soviet proposal, see Document 518. For text of the French proposal, see the U.S. Delegation record of the second restricted meeting, Document 459.
  3. No text of the amended Soviet proposal was found attached to the source text, but see Document 523 for this proposal.
  4. Transmitted in Dulte 44, Document 436.
  5. The British proposal, a copy of which was attached to the source text, is the same as that transmitted in Dulte 75, Document 483, except for the deletion of the words “further” and “of Southeast Asia” in the second paragraph.
  6. For the Soviet proposal, see Secto 43, Document 376. For the French proposal, see FPM(54)15, Document 509.