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

Secto 60. For Hoover from Secretary. Following is summary of Geneva Conference for use by Acting Secretary in report to Cabinet meeting.

The discussions of the Heads of Government have highlighted the basic difference of position between the USSR and the West on German unity. As the President put it, the difference is primarily the priority we accord to the problem of German unification. The Soviets have not departed from their initial position, namely, that establishment of an overall European security organization is a prerequisite to German unification, and that German unification can come only after establishment of “confidence” in Europe and a considerable period of time. The Heads of the three Allied Governments have made it clear that German unity is a matter of urgency, that the division of Germany is in itself a major cause of insecurity, and that the problems of European security and German unity are inseparable.
The Soviets have struck one new note by recognizing that NATO and the Paris agreements are facts of life, and have indicated that for a period at least they are willing to deal with these facts of life. Their major proposal on European security however calls for the eventual abolition of the Western security structure and, in effect, postpones German unification until such time as the West might be willing to dismantle its security arrangements. All three of the Western [Page 459]Heads of Government, and in particular the President, have made it clear that NATO and the Brussels Treaty involve no threat to Russian security and that German participation in NATO is helpful rather than harmful to the security interests of the Soviet Union.
The Heads of Government have directed the Foreign Ministers to draw up a directive to guide further discussion by the Foreign Ministers, at later conferences, of the problems of German unity and European security. The Foreign Ministers met this morning2 to discuss a directive but did not agree because Russians insisted on almost exclusive emphasis on “European Security”. However at lunch with SecState they indicated some “give”.3
The Heads of Government have now proceeded to discussion of the remaining two items on the agreed agenda: disarmament; and East-West contacts.
The conference already has not been without significant aspects. Foremost among these is the undeniable impression that the President personally has made upon the members of the Soviet Delegation, as well as upon our allies. Illustrative of this was the Soviet reaction to the President’s forceful statement of his personal reasons for believing that NATO could not be an instrument of aggression and his official statement, as President, that the United States could never be a party to aggression. The respects which both Bulganin and Molotov paid to the President’s statement were indicative of the weight which his personality and his views have carried at this conference. Although the Russians have made no changes in their formal positions on substantive questions the effects of the face to face exposure of major Russian leaders to the President may well be significant for the future.
Also of significance is the obvious effort of Soviet leaders to establish an atmosphere of friendly relations with the West and conspicuously with the United States. From Khrushchev and Bulganin down to the lowest rank officers of the Soviet Delegation there has been a clear and certainly calculated attempt to develop a generally friendly climate of opinion.
There has been on the whole a useful concert between the three Western delegations. In spite of some free-wheeling by Faure, the unity of the Three Powers on the major issues has been clearly demonstrated. The Russian efforts to use this conference for divisive effect have thus far been without result.
We have stuck to our major objectives at this conference. We have frankly but without truculence presented our views on the main causes of tension, including the satellite problem and international [Page 460]Communism. We have avoided details and we have not become involved in substantive decisions which could only be superficial at this stage. We may be able to lay the groundwork for useful further negotiations which will be necessary if any practical results are to be achieved.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–2155. Secret; Niact; Limited Distribution.
  2. See Document 217.
  3. See Document 219.