175. Telegram From the Delegation at the Geneva Conference to the Department of State1

Secto 29. President opened tripartite discussion with Eden and Faure this morning2 with indication that his opening statement would be brief and not truculent, touching on the sources of existing tensions. He stressed that no plans or proposals were to be presented at these Geneva meetings which were solely for purpose identifying problems and agreeing on form and methods for their further study.3 The Secretary noted that there were in fact no specific agreed tripartite substantive proposals to be put forward.

Eden said that Germany and German unity were the key problems before us. He felt they should be given priority and emphasis, bearing in mind that neither neutralization of Germany nor abandonment of Western security arrangements could be considered. Eden [Page 342] believed the Soviets were reluctant to discuss Germany and that it might therefore by useful to force the pace. He commented that pressure on the Soviets at the Berlin Conference had borne dividends in respect to Austria and that he believed the Soviets had ultimately been forced by that Conference to do what they earlier refused.

Faure said his opening statement had been prepared on assumption these statements would be made public in toto. Eden said his had not been so prepared but all agreed that full texts should be released.

Faure agreed with Eden that Germany was the central problem and that neutralization or dismantling of Western security could not be considered. He suggested that we were in a position of strength which would permit us to state our firm position and to ask for Soviet views. We could give assurances that Soviet security was not threatened. If they expressed concern about security, we would agree to explore how to meet their specific problems. Faure discussed four illustrative measures for possible consideration:

A demilitarized area.
An addition to existing guarantees.
An undertaking by Federal Republic that addition of East Germany would not increase German forces above WEU limits.
A security organization superimposed on WEU and the Warsaw Pact.

Faure believed guarantees were the only area of possible concession but he appeared to include the all-European organization in this possibility.

The President, the Secretary and Eden objected particularly to going into this detail and to giving apparent legitimacy to the Warsaw organization by treating it as the equal of NATO. Eden said that anything which might be said about a demilitarized zone must be tentative and vague. He suggested a formulation which would refer only to creating area where troops would not be in contact.

Faure then discussed an idea which he said he had borrowed from the President for putting disarmament savings into a world fund for technical development. Pinay strongly supported Faure. He said his expert study indicated that the only effective enforcement of disarmament would be through budgetary controls. An agreed contribution of what would amount to annual dues to a world fund could compel governments to disarm. This development in detail of the idea was strongly attacked by US and UK on grounds of possibilities for USSR to conceal its military expenditures, interference with normal trade, impossibility of committing democracies to predetermined use of budgetary savings from any reduction in armaments. [Page 343] Faure appeared somewhat shaken and indicated he would redraft his opening statement with a view to making it deal in generalities.

The President closed the discussion saying that it was illustrative of risks of getting into detailed discussions at Conference.

Tripartite group meeting this afternoon to go over and coordinate three draft opening statements.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 524. Secret; Priority; Limited Distribution. Cleared in draft with Merchant and MacArthur. Repeated to London and Paris.
  2. The meeting took place at President Eisenhower’s villa at 11 a.m. For three other brief accounts, see Tides of Fortune, pp. 615–616; Full Circle, pp. 327–328; and Merchant, Recollections, pp. 20–21.
  3. Early in the morning of July 17, Merchant drafted a memorandum for Dulles attaching a checklist of points which the President should take up with the British and French. (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 515) Apparently Dulles discussed this with the President since its substance is the same as the remarks recorded here.
  4. The tripartite group, consisting of MacArthur, Bowie, Beam, Jacquin de Margerie, Berard, Hancock, Caccia, Hayter, and Harrison, met at 2:30 p.m. at the British villa to discuss the opening statements and procedural matters. (USDEL/MC/2, July 17; Ibid., CF 516) In reporting to Secretary Dulles on this meeting MacArthur stated that British and U.S. officials had tried to whittle down Faure’s opening statement, but he suspected that the end result would have to wait for Faure’s meeting with President Eisenhower later that afternoon. (Memorandum for the Secretary, July 17; Ibid., Central Files, 396.1–NE/5–1755) For a report on the President’s meeting with Faure at 5:30 p.m., see Document 179.