396.1 BE/2–1754: Telegram

No. 489
The Secretary of State to the Department of State1

top secret priority

Dulte 84. Following summarizes meeting of deputies of Foreign Ministers morning February 16 on draft proposals under agenda item Number 1.2 Merchant and McConaughy attended for US, Malik for USSR, Allen for UK and Joxe and Roux for France. Allen gave argument for UK proposal3 saying it made concrete arrangement for early meeting on specific question of Korea. Conference could get down immediately to matters of substance. He criticized Soviet text4 as vague and obscure in its provisions for Korean conference. Unclear reference to conference of Foreign Ministers was disturbing. Soviet proposal seemed to contemplate that initial conference would only deal with arrangements. There must be no more long debates over arrangements. Under British proposal CPR would not be discriminated against and would be invited rather than summoned to conference. There was provision for conference on Indochina as soon as situation warranted holding it.

Merchant confirmed original adverse US reaction to Soviet proposal. It did not abandon five-power conference nor was it clear as to issuance of invitations. It did not confirm that composition provision was final. There might be possibility late dispute over inclusion other countries.

Joxe objected to mere parenthetical mention of Indochina at end of Soviet draft and paragraph 4 provision consultations with Communist China as to matters to be discussed.

Malik said Soviet revised draft represented attempt to meet views of colleagues. Five-power conference phrase avoided, although CPR would naturally be present at all discussions. USSR [Page 1130] could not agree that Indochina conference should follow or be related to conference on Korea. Two separate conferences not permissible. This would require an interim conference to decide if subsequent conference on Indochina should be called. Reference to Southeast Asia not useful. “Favorable prospects for peace” an obscure phrase and subject to differing interpretations. USSR unable to accept any formula which placed on China responsibility for situation in Indochina. This responsibility rested entirely on France. Requested reference to UN in British draft be deleted since if conference should result from Berlin conversations it would not rest on decision of UN but would be done another way. Hence no reference to UN would be necessary. Soviet delegation preferred its reference to countries whose forces participated in hostilities in Korea. USSR also would want to change paragraph 3 of UK draft by calling upon Foreign Ministers of five-countries to consult with “representatives” of other countries. He objected to final paragraph of UK draft as to no implication of recognition on grounds that it was out of place and pointless. He believed conference could be held in Geneva and said April date was satisfactory to USSR but Peiping should be consulted as to date. Views of Peiping should be sought on any agreements reached.

Merchant said if Soviets had basic objection to paragraph 4 of UK draft concerning conditions for conference on Indochina, then disagreement was fundamental. Allen and Joxe supported this view. Joxe said reference to situation in Southeast Asia was necessary. French were showing great forbearance in not mentioning responsibility of Communist China and not including judgment against Communist China. This was a substantial French concession. France greatly desired an appropriate conference on Indochina but conditions must be maintained as stated in UK text.

Allen indicated dissatisfaction with Malik’s evasive replies on invitation procedure and inconclusive list of countries to be invited. He said any conference provided for in Berlin must be real one, not merely new forum for endless debates on arrangements. If USSR could not accept UK draft on Indochina, indications were no agreement could be reached and matters could not be advanced much by further discussions.

Malik said he was optimistic and deplored Allen’s pessimism. He said we should continue to seek agreement. Said French request for deletion of provision in Soviet draft for discussion with CPR as to questions to be considered at conference would be taken under advisement. Only four Ministers could say whether list of countries to be invited is a final one. USSR has in effect accepted Western list with omission of UN reference.

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Merchant remarked that despite efforts at reconcilement, deep division remained. Indochina conference not subordinated to Korean conference but conditions prescribed were logical, clear and necessary in light of situation. Soviet proposal still contained principle of central meeting of five to which representatives of various other countries would be invited according to subject under discussion. Unnecessary to repeat Secretary’s explicit rejection of such five-power conference. Suggestion to invite Foreign Ministers of five-countries and mere “representatives” of other countries gave impression of five-power representation at high level with other countries represented at another level. Impression conveyed by this was repugnant.

Joxe said that any acceptable text must contain specific provisions for early conference on Korea. No preceding conference with CPR as to questions to be considered. Provision for Indochina conference must include conditions alluded to in UK text.

Allen and Merchant expressed doubts that their Ministers would be able personally to attend protracted Korean conference. However, all three Western representatives agreed to obtain views their principals as to mention of five Foreign Ministers in paragraph 3 of UK text and also as to requested omission of UN reference in same paragraph.

Malik showed strong desire for another meeting of deputies before restricted meeting of Foreign Ministers tomorrow. Joxe evinced some interest. Merchant and Allen were noncommittal. Question was left open. Late this afternoon Malik stated he would not press for another meeting of deputies. There will be no further quadripartite meeting before restricted session tomorrow. Tripartite meeting will be held immediately before restricted meeting to map western tactics.

  1. Drafted by McConaughy.
  2. The meeting took place from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the ACA building. A more detailed summary of the meeting is in file 396.1 BE/2–1654.
  3. Transmitted in Dulte 75, Document 483, except for the minor differences noted in footnote 5 to the record of the fourth restricted session, Document 485.
  4. Document 523.