177. Memorandum of a Conversation, Secretary’s Villa, Geneva, July 17, 1955, 2:30 p.m.1



  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Ambassador Bohlen
  • USSR
    • Mr. Molotov
    • Mr. Zaroubin
    • Mr. Troyanovsky (interpreter)

Mr. Molotov said he had no major questions to take up but merely wished to see Mr. Dulles before the conference began. He understood that all organizational and procedural questions had been agreed upon.2

The Secretary said that that was agreed insofar as he was aware. There was, however, one question he wished to take up and that was the desirability of making public the initial statements tomorrow of the four Heads of Delegations. The President planned to make a ten or fifteen minute statement outlining the problems as he saw them without, however, going into substance. The Secretary said he hoped the list of the problems would not be controversial. It was his impression that if the press were given something of this nature for the first day it would then be easier in subsequent meetings to have more informal and intimate discussions which would not be given out to the press.

Mr. Molotov inquired whether this statement would be the President’s major statement or merely a preliminary one.

The Secretary replied that the President had no prepared material except for this brief statement which was in the form of a preface. It was anticipated that subsequent discussions would be informal and the President would speak extemporaneously and without prepared material.

Mr. Molotov said he understood.

The Secretary stated that, while he could not speak for the British or the French, they had lunch today3 and their ideas were, he thought, in general along the same lines except that M. Faure has in [Page 356] mind a more extended speech than that of the President. He added that Sir Anthony Eden also wished to keep the discussions informal.

Mr. Molotov asked whether the President, M. Faure and Sir Anthony Eden would also make statements for publication.

The Secretary replied that he understood they would do so if this was acceptable to the Soviet Delegation.

Mr. Molotov said he thought it was acceptable and would inform the Prime Minister but he anticipated no difficulties.

The Secretary said the President had received an invitation from Mr. Bulganin for dinner tomorrow night and for a subsequent dinner to include the other Heads of Delegations. The President, however, in conformity with protocol established in Washington that the President, who was Head of State, does not accept official invitations to meals would follow the same practice here. The President, however, would like to invite six members of the Soviet Delegation to dine with him tomorrow night which would afford an opportunity to talk.

Mr. Molotov said he would transmit the invitation and added that it might be possible to find some other form of meeting on an unofficial basis at the Soviet residence which the President could attend.

The Secretary said he would communicate this suggestion to the President. He hoped that opportunity for informal discussions at the Palais des Nations would be possible during the intermissions and at the buffet.

Mr. Molotov replied, “of course”.

The Secretary continued that possibly the most useful results of the meeting would emerge from these informal contacts and while the directives, which might be officially adopted, would not be momentous they might nonetheless reflect a new spirit behind them which might be developed during these informal contacts.

Mr. Molotov agreed and said judging from preliminary indications of the statements made by the Heads of Delegations, it seemed to him that some such result might well emerge from the conference. He inquired whether tomorrow morning’s session would be devoted to statements by the Heads of Delegations.

The Secretary said that was his understanding and that it might be necessary to use up some of the afternoon session for the same purpose since he imagined that part of the morning would be taken up by photographers. He said that he thought on Tuesday morning the Foreign Ministers might meet in order to agree on the topics to be discussed by the Heads of Governments that afternoon.

Mr. Molotov said that seemed possible.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–1755. Secret. Drafted by Bohlen. A nearly verbatim summary of this memorandum was transmitted to Washington in Secto 27 from Geneva, July 17. (Ibid.)
  2. While most of the organizational and procedural questions had been agreed on, the delegation secretaries also met at 2:30 to discuss with Peter Wilkinson, Secretary General for the Conference, last-minute arrangements and procedures. A memorandum of their discussions, CF/ADM/SEC. DEL/1, July 17, is Ibid., Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 502.
  3. See supra.