Secretary’s Memoranda, lot 53 D 444, “Staff Meetings January–June 1952”

No. 83
Memorandum of the Secretary of State’s Daily Staff Meeting1

SM N–22

[Here follow seven numbered paragraphs in which those present at the meeting discussed the military situation in Korea, Communist propaganda activities, the Japanese Peace Treaty, Bolivia, and countervailing duties.]

Soviet Note on Germany

Mr. Jessup explained that there had been no preliminary talks with the French and British because we had decided to wait for the note,2 rather than theorize on what we might do when the note arrived. The Secretary asked what our general objective was in these series of notes. Mr. Jessup explained that some people feel that if we get started on talks with the Soviets, it will delay things in Germany. Mr. Jessup said that he was not sure that this was true. He felt that perhaps “medium-level” talks would not have a delaying effect on our objectives in Germany.

Mr. Bohlen suggested that it might be wise to get a strong statement of our policy on Germany and include this in our next note. Then we might call a meeting of the High Commissioners or their deputies in order to discuss what might be done on Germany. The difficulty in this proposal obviously is our getting a strong statement which would have the proper safeguards in it.

(The Secretary had to leave the meeting at this point.)

Mr. Bohlen felt that we would be in a better position propaganda-wise if we were meeting with the Soviets, so that we could make counter points at the same time that they make their proposals. Mr. Bohlen’s general reaction to the note was that it did not say anything. Mr. Jessup felt that there was one inconsistency in the note in the third paragraph. He felt that the third paragraph accepted our idea of “stages” and perhaps we should pick up this interpretation of acceptance in our response to the note.
Mr. McDermott stated that the note probably will be published on Friday. He said that it has been suggested to him by correspondents, and he agrees, that Mr. Bohlen, or someone else, might meet with the press and tell them what is in the note and state our general attitude towards it. Mr. McDermott felt that the press needed guidance and if we did not talk to them about the note, they would have a week-end free to offer their various interpretations, which might be unfortunate. Mr. Bohlen explained that the usual practice is to release such notes in Moscow on the evening radio, which might be early Saturday morning our time. He felt that we should not reveal the content until Moscow releases it, because the practice of 48 hours between delivery of notes and releasing the texts is important to us and should be maintained. He suggested that we might send a telegram to Paris and London in an effort to get an agreed noncommittal line which might be expressed. At least, we could explain to the British and French what we plan to do in briefing our press.3 Mr. Bohlen suggested that we should merely analyze the note, because it is clear that we will not know our position and will not have consulted the British and French by the time of the briefing.
There appeared to be general agreement that such a briefing session should be held, if possible, in order to analyze the note for the benefit of the press. It was further agreed that the people in the various offices in the Department should be advised that they should not talk to the press on this matter. A meeting of interested officers was planned for later in the day to discuss the note.4
  1. The source text bears no indication of the drafter of the memorandum or of the participants in the meeting other than those referred to in the numbered paragraphs.
  2. Supra.
  3. A telegram along these lines was sent to London, Paris, Bonn, and Moscow at 3:05 p.m. on Apr. 10. (Telegram 5113 to London, 662.001/4–1052)
  4. No record found in Department of State files.