157. Notes on a Bipartisan Conference, Washington, July 12, 19551

GENEVA MEETING

The President indicated that the U.S. group goes with hope, and not with false expectations. He feels the U.S. is strong in its allies as well as militarily, economically, spiritually and morally. There is no sentiment for appeasement, and the U.S. representatives have exactly the same attitudes. If the Soviets are making a tactical change, we should take advantage of it. The conference may well be only a beginning, but we will be seeking approaches to our difficult problems.

He indicated the Secretary of State will send back a daily cable, which will serve to keep the Vice President completely informed, and he can in turn inform the Congress.

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Secretary Dulles then spoke, recalling how the meeting came about. He referred to Churchill’s proposals a year ago,2 and the U.S. feeling that we should delay until West Germany was in NATO. Once this had occurred, we agreed to hold the meeting but on the terms that we should not seek answers but would seek new approaches toward the solution to our problems, perhaps thus infusing a new spirit. The conference would be difficult because the Soviets often put forward spectacular plans, and we are not ready for that.

The Secretary then reviewed Soviet objectives, our own, and certain allied attitudes.

The Secretary indicated the Soviets may be wanting a “change of pace” and that this may be the reason for some of their recent actions which are not superficial but involve very important risks to themselves (the Austrian Treaty, trip to Belgrade, wooing of Adenauer, etc.). The present pace and the vitality of the West has put too much strain on them. Their leaders are not of the same personal strength as Lenin and Stalin. They cannot bear the burden of modern armaments on a “long haul” basis. There are weaknesses in their industry. The strain of their aid to China and other areas is telling. And they may be accommodating themselves to the free world rather than bucking it, i.e., for expediency they may be trying to get along. Their conduct may be a trap to give them a breathing spell, and we must conduct ourselves so as to be in good position to meet any outcome.

The President indicated that in such a meeting one objective is world opinion. Our free world system depends on the voluntary alignment of our allies—hence world opinion is quite vital. He cited recent neutralist inroads in public opinion; a few years ago he felt the people in Western Europe were strong and the governments weak—now the reverse is tending to occur. He said the Soviets are stressing that the United States is now the iron curtain country (for example in the matter of finger-printing of visitors to this country), and warned that the Soviets may make many preposterous charges.

Senator Knowland asked as to the probable position of the United Kingdom and France, referring to reports of an Eden plan for a fifty-year agreement which would put the satellites permanently into a grouping behind the iron curtain. The Secretary said the British seemed disposed to go further on specific propositions than we were. However, we will want to study them carefully. The Europeans have less concern over the satellites than do we. A working group is now meeting in Paris and he does not doubt that we will be able to [Page 308]get close together. British and French opinion presses them to put out concrete proposals.

Mr. Vorys referred to the Berlin-Geneva sequence and asked if it might be repeated here. The Secretary said the Summit Meeting would be followed up with a Foreign Ministers meeting. The President indicated he would not commit himself to another meeting. If, however, success should be attained in the Foreign Ministers meetings, he would be ready to meet again any time, anywhere, to ratify.

Mr. McCormack asked who would represent the Soviet Union. The Secretary said Bulganin probably would—”that their delegation is supposed to be announced today.”

Senator Wiley commented as to the effect on the American people. Many expect the millennium, others see only the same trickery. If the President reaches the conclusion that the Soviets are not seeking to make progress, the President must inform the American people very clearly. The President referred to his plan for a broadcast before going to Europe, bringing out that his approach is conciliatory but that we will sacrifice nothing in the way of interests and basic beliefs. He also plans to make a brief statement on his return, probably with the Secretary.

Mr. Vorys asked as to plans for secrecy. The President said we would try to adhere to any agreement reached on this, but would not remain quiet if others violated it. The Secretary will send reports back to the Congress. Secretary Dulles said he had reached agreement with Molotov not to turn the conference into a propaganda effort. There will be background briefings and the plan for the press contemplates several types of situations.

Senator Clements asked if the greatest area of disagreement would not be over Asia. Secretary Dulles said this meeting is not being called to discuss the Asian question because interested countries will be absent. No doubt the Soviets will raise the matter, but we would not agree to a general discussion. The President said we will not talk while countries concerned are not there. The Secretary said we might agree to discuss specific concrete issues with Red China but we will not be agreeable to a general conference with them sitting in as a great power having interests of general scope. The Secretary mentioned with respect to Indo-China that the Geneva accords are not working well, because of inherent defects. Molotov and Eden may raise this matter since they were co-chairmen at Geneva, and it may be a side issue in the conference. (Senator Smith also asked a question on this—if we exclude the question of Asia, won’t that put the United States in an untenable position?)

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In response to a question, Secretary Dulles said that efforts are continuing to get our flyers out of China. There is some possibility that Menon3 may have suggested letting out a few at a time.

Mr. Gordon asked whether we would urge free elections for countries behind the iron curtain, i.e., elections under international supervision and the Secretary said that we would.

G
Colonel, CE, US Army
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File. Secret. Drafted on July 13 by Goodpaster.
  2. For documentation on the discussion of this idea during Churchill’s visit to Washington, June 25–29, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. vi, Part 1, pp. 1075 ff.
  3. V.K. Krishna Menon, Member of the Indian Parliament and personal envoy of Prime Minister Nehru, visited Peking in May 1955.