No. 784
Memorandum of Conversation, by Peter Rutter of the Office of Western European Affairs



  • The Austrian Treaty.


  • K.D. Jamieson, Second Secretary, British Embassy
  • Francis T. Williamson
  • Peter Rutter

Mr. Jamieson read in its entirety the British report of the January 10 talks between the Secretary and Mr. Eden on the Austrian Treaty,1 and Mr. Williamson read the U.S. memorandum of conversation prepared for the Secretary’s signature on the same meeting. While there were understandable differences in rhetoric and emphasis in the two reports, there appeared to be only one difference [Page 1723] in substance. This refers to the tactics which the Western Deputies would use in the forthcoming meeting.

Mr. Jamieson reported the views of the Foreign Office to the effect that before the abbreviated treaty2 is presented to the Soviets the British wished to demonstrate clearly that the Western Powers would be prepared to concede the Soviet versions of the unagreed articles to obtain a treaty. Although the British now understood that they would not make a direct offer to do this, they felt that Mr. Acheson’s words represented a U.S. commitment to act along the same lines. The pertinent sentence in the British report on this matter is “He (Mr. Acheson) did not object, however, to saying that we would go a long way to meet the Russians if they agreed to sign the Treaty on that basis”. The British, Mr. Jamieson said, interpreted the words “saying” and “a long way” to mean that the Western Powers would make a general offer of concessions to the Soviets on the understanding that the Treaty would be concluded.

Mr. Williamson answered that the above did not represent our interpretation of the Secretary’s words. The Secretary had made it clear that nothing should be done which might be interpreted by the Soviets as a commitment to make concessions. It was not to be expected that the Secretary and Mr. Eden would spell out what was essentially a tactical detail which should be handled by the Deputies. By skillful negotiating tactics, the Western Deputies should be able to push the Soviet Deputy into a repudiation of the old draft.

Mr. Jamieson then agreed that this was a tactical detail but stated that the desired end was so important to the British they did not wish to leave to the discretion of the Deputies the spelling out of the phrase “a long way”. He, therefore, would communicate this difference of interpretation to the Foreign Office immediately.

Mr. Jamieson reported that the British text allowed for a ten day adjournment of the Deputies between January 21 and the date of the next meeting when the abbreviated treaty would be proposed. Mr. Williamson said that it was his recollection of the meeting that no specific time period was mentioned. He agreed with Mr. Jamieson that the matter was of no importance unless the Soviet Deputy was to be in the Chair for the subsequent meeting. In this event an exact date should be set.

  1. See Document 782.
  2. Reference is to the short treaty draft which was under consideration for possible introduction into the four-power negotiations concerning an Austrian Treaty. This abbreviated draft treaty was formally proposed by the three Western powers in March 1952. See Document 794.