210. Telegram From the Secretary of State to the Department of State 1

Dulte 25. Eyes only from Secretary to Acting Secretary. The President has given me his following personal comments for your use in briefing the legislative leaders:

“The usual gulf between the positions of the Soviets and the Western world is, of course, noticeable here at Geneva. The biggest change is the obvious and unshakable personal friendliness of the Russian Delegation and their evident desire to achieve some concrete result to which they can point as improving the Soviet world position. It seems to us that in a way they are competing with the Stalin leadership and that they are anxious to establish changes of various sorts, including better relations, on the surface at least, with the rest of the world.

Evidence of this kind of attitude is discernible in the number of personal contacts that they are establishing. They have given both dinners and luncheons, to which they have invited all delegations simultaneously and each delegation separately. Only last evening Bulganin stressed the importance of dealing with some of our knotty problems on a personal basis rather than on one of public debate.2

On the side of practical accomplishment, they seem to us to be more intent on establishing a recognition of the status quo in Europe than they do in any real attempt to improve that situation, although they do, of course, give lip service at least to the problem of German reunification. My impression is that in stressing the need for gradual and slow approach to that problem, they are really hoping that time will work for them in creating an acceptance of the status quo and possible weakening of West German ties with West. This, of course, we can never accept.

There are, of course, certain questions that they are obviously unprepared to talk about and which are important to us, but in these cases we can and do at the very least make certain that the record shows that we will not drop them merely because this particular conference cannot place them on the agenda for examination and recommendation.

The three Western Powers seem to me to be solidly united in support of basic principles and position and this of course gives hope that something concrete can be established.

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In the matter of encouraging an interchange of visitors and information across the borders, the Soviets appear to be sincerely favorable. This of course may be only a temporary technique to convince us of the friendliness of their current attitude, but they have nevertheless given some evidence of sincerity by the wisdom with which they have issued invitations.

The next three days should give us a pretty good indication of the character of the relationships that we may expect of them for some time to come. We of course are not expecting any great results, but we continue to be hopeful that some practical progress will be achieved.

I have shown this to the Secretary of State who is in agreement with the opinions herein expressed.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–2055. Top Secret; Priority.
  2. Presumably a reference to Bulganin’s statements at the Third Plenary Session; see Document 197.