245. Delegation Record of the First Part of the Seventh (Restricted) Plenary Session of the Geneva Conference, Geneva, July 23, 1955, 11:03 a.m.1


  • France
    • M. Faure, Chairman
    • M. Pinay
    • M. Joxe
    • M. de Margerie
    • (M. Andronokov, interpreter)
  • USA
    • President Eisenhower
    • Mr. Dulles
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Mr. Phleger
  • UK
    • Sir A. Eden
    • Mr. Macmillan
    • Sir N. Brook
    • Sir I. Kirkpatrick
    • (Mr. Balacheff, interpreter)
  • USSR
    • Mr. Bulganin
    • Mr. Khrushchev
    • Mr. Molotov
    • Marshal Zhukov
    • (Mr. Troyanovsky, interpreter)
    • Mr. Wilkinson, Secretary General of the Conference

Faure (in the Chair) opened the meeting with the statement that there were five items still outstanding:

The order in which the several items would be taken up at the meeting of Foreign Ministers;
The question of possible consultation with representatives of the German Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic at the meeting of Foreign Ministers;
The question whether the section of the directive dealing with disarmament should mention prohibition of atomic and thermonuclear weapons (as the Soviets proposed);
Whether the matters concerning disarmament should be referred to the Disarmament Subcommittee of the United Nations or be first considered by the four Foreign Ministers;
The Soviet Proposal to delete that part of the draft directive on disarmament (2–b) concerning the priority to be given to the question of international control, inspection, and publicity.2

Last, Faure noted that no draft directive had yet been prepared on the question of improving East-West contacts (item number 4 on the Conference agenda). He asked whether all were agreed on this list. (All agreed.) Faure then proposed that discussion should begin with the question of the order in which the items would be taken up by the meeting of Foreign Ministers. He noted that the order proposed by the United Kingdom, the United States, and France was: (1) German reunification, (2) European security, (3) Disarmament. Whereas the order proposed by the Soviet delegation was: (1) European security, (2) Disarmament, (3) the German problem.

Eden said that the order proposed by the three Western Powers was that which, by agreement, had been followed in this conference. It therefore seemed natural to place the subject in the same order in the directive to the Foreign Ministers. He recalled that Mr. Macmillan had said last night that this did not exclude parallel study of the questions referred to the Foreign Ministers, nor simultaneous fulfillment of these matters, for example, of European security and German reunification.3

[Page 495]

Bulganin said that he would like Molotov to speak on item one.

Molotov said that it was true that yesterday they had discussed the five outstanding questions and that the first was the question of the order in which the subjects were to be considered by the Foreign Ministers conference. The discussion showed that they were not in complete agreement on the order. The reason for this was that the Soviet Delegation believed that these matters should be discussed in the order of their importance and public interest. This meant that European security should come first, for it was the most urgent for all European people. The importance of the question of European security was emphasized by the fact that the Soviet Delegation had made at least two new proposals, rather three, and that the other Delegations also had made proposals, such as the Five-Power Security Pact proposed by Eden. The Soviet Delegation suggested that Disarmament be listed as the second item. Its importance was stressed by the number of statements made on this subject by the four Heads of Government at this conference. Finally would come the German problem. Its importance was recognized by the Soviet Government, which was in favor of having it discussed by the Foreign Ministers. Finally, with regard to the order of discussion proposed by the Chairman, the Soviet Delegation was of opinion that there should be a general exchange of views on all the differences in order that they might see where they stand and explore the possibilities of compromise.

Eisenhower said that in general the United States position had been already stated by Sir Anthony Eden. It happened that we agreed and he would not repeat it. He would like, however, to make a few personal observations. He had been impressed by the comradely and friendly spirit which had characterized these talks, and by the new friends he had made and the opportunity to talk with them here. He hoped that these opportunities would be enlarged in the future, for this was the spirit which must underlie all fruitful negotiations in the international field. It would be a pity if this spirit, which he had felt developing, could not be evidenced and proved to the world by real accomplishments. It would be impossible to do this unless the four Heads of Government could provide some directive to their Foreign Ministers. Since no one could have his full way, could there not be found some common meeting-ground on which we all might agree? It had been suggested that the items be dealt with in the order of their importance. This was a relative matter. It differs for different countries. The suggestion to include the topic of European security on the agenda of this conference, for example, had been accepted by him only after strong urging by others in his own delegation, since he considered it outside the scope of this conference. However, he had accepted it. In the United States the German [Page 496] question was of such importance that if the public read in their newspapers that the order had now suddenly been reversed, it would be difficult to give a plausible explanation which would be approved by the people. For the third time at this Conference he would like to refer to Mr. Bulganin’s speech of July 15, in which Mr. Bulganin had said that we must find at this meeting machinery by which the solution of these problems can be furthered. Consequently his proposal was simple. It was that they should take up the questions in the order suggested by the Chairman, and that they should direct the Foreign Ministers to set up machinery for dealing with them simultaneously. These questions could be dealt with simultaneously because they were all interconnected, and by this means questions of priority, timing, and relative importance could be eliminated.

Faure said that after this first round he believed agreement could be reached on the solution proposed by the President, namely to give directives to the Foreign Ministers to set up machinery for dealing with the several questions at the same time.

Eden said he had nothing to add for the moment.

Bulganin said that the Soviet Delegation continued to proceed from the fact that European security and disarmament were the principal problems, and unless they were settled no progress could be made toward peace for the world or for Europe. Even if it were possible to settle the German question, as the Soviet Delegation desired, this would not assure European security. Therefore European security should be settled first. The Soviet Delegation maintained its position, firmly believing it to be right, that this question should be dealt with first. Suppose the German question were settled in the manner and way desired, two sides would remain in Europe: the NATO group and the Warsaw group. In so doing we should still not have arrived at a final settlement. Germany is only a part of the general European problem. The Soviet Delegation was therefore in favor of settling first the general questions of European security and disarmament, and then proceeding to the German problem.

Eisenhower said that in his previous comments he proposed what he had hoped would provide a common meeting ground. Since this had not been acceptable, he had nothing further to say. He saw no point in pursuing the subject further.

Faure said that he wondered whether some misunderstanding did not exist with regard to a practical fact. If they could agree on a practical procedure, he believed they should be able to agree on a text. The Heads of Government were going to draft directives for the Foreign Ministers about complicated and important questions. He would not debate with M. Molotov about their relative importance. In view of the scope of the problem it might well be said that disarmament as a world problem was more important than European security. [Page 497] He would not argue the matter. All were extremely important. He thought it reasonable that the Foreign Ministers should consider these questions concurrently, according to the wise proposal of President Eisenhower. He liked the President’s suggestion that the Foreign Ministers should not wait to tackle the second item until they had finished the first. Therefore was it agreed on this practical approach, that the Foreign Ministers should not be required to finish one question before moving on to the next, as they had done at this conference? Or on the other hand, was any one of opinion that the last question could only be taken up after the earlier ones had been solved?

Eden said that he entirely agreed with the Chairman’s definition of their position. First, they believed that there could be no security for Europe without German unification. Equally, when Germany was united it would be necessary to have a plan of European security. These matters had to be discussed together, decided together, and come into force together. Disarmament was important, but was not in the same category as the other two questions. He said this because a solution of the disarmament problem could not be reached at this table. It was a world problem. He would not wish to say that nothing was possible with respect to German reunification and European security until world agreement had been reached on disarmament. This did not exclude the Foreign Ministers discussing these three things together, as the Chairman had suggested. He could recall reasons why he would not wish an order written down here which would exclude simultaneous discussion of these topics. At Potsdam a list was agreed in which the Italian Peace Treaty came before the Austrian Treaty. When they wanted to discuss the Austrian Treaty, for two years they were told that the Austrian Treaty could not be discussed because they had not yet completed the Italian Treaty. He did not wish to be placed in that position again.

Faure said that he would like to ask again whether it was agreed that the Foreign Ministers were not required to complete one item before going on to another. He noted that Eden had replied in the affirmative. He would like to address the same question to Marshal Bulganin.

Bulganin said that he wished to reply to Sir Anthony Eden, who had said that there could be no European security without the unification of Germany. That was important, for it appeared to mean that German unification had to be completed before European security was dealt with.

Eden said: “I’m sorry. You misunderstood my position. I did not say that German unification had to be completed before European security was dealt with. I said that they should be completed together or at the same time.”

[Page 498]

Bulganin said that since united Germany would no doubt be in NATO, it would strengthen one side. How could this contribute to European security? He had his doubts on this score. In practice a simultaneous settlement of the two problems was impossible. Some order of priority would emerge. If Germany were united and in NATO, would this allay the fears of the European people and help European security? It would increase the power of NATO and would bring up the question of strengthening the Warsaw group. In any case, they had to find a procedure to facilitate the task of the Foreign Ministers. He thought that any attempt to suggest simultaneous discussion would only affect the form and could not change the substance of the matter. The difficulty would still remain. There were two different approaches to this problem. He therefore associated himself with President Eisenhower and suggested that they pass on to the next subject.

Faure said (addressing himself to Bulganin) that in his role as Chairman, not as Head of the French Delegation, he would like to establish an area of agreement, and therefore wished to clarify one thing: did Marshal Bulganin agree with the UK and US answers to the Chairman’s question or did he not? That is, did he agree that the Foreign Ministers would not have to finish one subject before proceeding to another, or did he believe that they must first settle one before they went on to the next?

Bulganin said that he believed he had stated the Soviet position clearly.

Eisenhower said that although he had indicated that he had nothing further to say, he would like to make one thing clear. He had assumed that neither question could be solved without the other. The unification of Germany would contribute to stability in Europe just as stability in Europe would make a difference in unifying Germany. This seemed to the US Delegation clear-cut and indisputable. They therefore felt that the study of both problems should be by groups or by any other means that the Foreign Ministers might devise and that these studies should be conducted simultaneously. He had nothing further to say.

Faure said that this was a new proposal by President Eisenhower: that the different questions should be discussed by different groups. Was that the President’s thought?

Eisenhower said that that was his original suggestion. Now he thought that the discussion of this item should be dropped, since there appeared to be no reason to believe that a common ground existed. In his opinion the two subjects were related. He had explained again why he thought so, but was not making any new proposal.

Faure asked whether Eden had any comment.

[Page 499]

Eden said that he had nothing further to say on the merits at that time, but would like to see where they stood with respect to the texts of the directives. Thanks to the excellent work of the Foreign Ministers, the text relating to European security had been agreed and there appeared to remain only one difference with respect to Germany. It had been agreed that both questions could be discussed. Doubtless neither question could be finally settled without the other. It would be strange indeed if they should break down over the question of order.

Faure asked whether Bulganin had anything to add.

Bulganin said that he would like to make two remarks. The proposal upheld by the Soviet Delegation was not a procedural matter but one of substance for them. As for the suggestion about setting up groups or subcommittees, he thought that these were procedural matters to be determined by the Foreign Ministers. In conclusion, the Soviet Delegation had done all that they could to convince the others of their position, and he was sorry that they had been unable to do so.

Eisenhower said that he would repeat his suggestion that they go on to the next subject. That appeared to be the only thing to do.

Faure asked whether everyone agreed, noting that they did. (All agreed.) He said that the next question was how representatives of the Federal Republic, the German Democratic Republic, and other states should be consulted by the Foreign Ministers. Yesterday it had been suggested that it be left to the Foreign Ministers to make whatever arrangements they considered desirable for the participation and consultation of other interested parties. Was there agreement on that?

Eden said that a formula had been proposed by Mr. Macmillan yesterday. He would ask him to speak.

Macmillan said that his proposal was as follows: “The Foreign Ministers will make whatever arrangements they may consider desirable for the participation of, or for consultation with, other interested parties.”

Khrushchev said that the Soviet Delegation agreed with that. The British Foreign Minister had made a good suggestion and it was acceptable.

Faure said that the second question was now settled. They might turn to the third of the five unagreed points, namely the Soviet proposal to introduce a reference to atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons. He would ask Mr. Bulganin to speak to this.4

[Page 500]

Bulganin replied that he desired to meet the wishes of the other Delegations and would agree to omit reference to atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons.

Faure said that that appeared to leave only one question of difference: whether it was necessary for the matter to be remitted only to the Disarmament Subcommittee or whether the Foreign Ministers would have to tackle the question of disarmament themselves.

Eden said that it seemed to him that the work would have to be done by the Subcommittee which would meet before the Foreign Ministers. This would not exclude the Foreign Ministers from dealing with the problem.

Bulganin thought that it was possible to agree with Sir Anthony Eden’s point of view.

Eisenhower said he agreed that there was no objection to the Foreign Ministers having this matter in their directive, since the Disarmament Subcommittee would continue and the Foreign Ministers would have to take note of its work.

(It was agreed that the United Kingdom Delegation would produce a text.)

Turning to the fifth question, Eisenhower said that the United States Delegation would not be outdone. Since it was the United States proposal that priority should be given to the question of international controls, inspection, reporting and publicity, he would be prepared not to insist on this point. However, he had not changed his views.

Faure said that this disposed of all the questions except one.

Eisenhower enquired whether they were going to discuss the question of increasing contacts between East and West.

Faure said that he would like to suggest a recess for lunch, during which they could each reflect on the still unresolved first question and meet early in the afternoon. Meanwhile the experts could be left to draw up texts reflecting the agreements that had just been reached.

Bulganin said that he would like to make an observation on the first item. He though that they had done so well on items 3, 4 and 5, that he was prepared to put disarmament in the third place and to move Germany up from the bottom to second place. The order would then read (1) European security, (2) Germany, and (3) disarmament.

Faure remarked that this was a new proposal and asked Eden whether he had any comment.

Eden said that this was certainly an improvement, since it brought European security and German unification together, as they were in fact.

Faure: “President Eisenhower?”

[Page 501]

Eisenhower said that he agreed with Sir Anthony that this was an improvement, but he could not desert his position that these questions, German reunification and European security, must be dealt with hand in hand.

Faure said that all speakers recognized that there was a link between the two questions. M. Pinay had drafted a text on this point, which, if it were agreeable, he would ask M. Pinay to read out.

(All agreed.)

Pinay said that his suggestion would be to add at the end of the preamble the phrase “taking into account the close link between European security (the reunification of Germany?) and the problem of European security.” He felt that this addition might be discussed along with the new proposal of Marshal Bulganin, and might lead to agreement.

Bulganin said that unfortunately he had had no chance to study this proposal. Why could they not let the Foreign Ministers look at it in a preliminary fashion, and then the Heads of Government could revert to it after lunch?

Eisenhower asked, at what time?

Faure said that they could reflect on it at lunch. Should they meet early? At 2 o’clock? Was that too soon?

Bulganin asked, who would meet at 2 o’clock?

Faure replied, the Heads of Government.

Eisenhower said that he would be glad to go without lunch if he could get his friends to agree with his point.

Khrushchev said that there was a saying that people became more generous and happy after they had eaten.

Faure remarked that Talleyrand had once said at an historical moment, “One must have one’s lunch.”

(The Heads of Government recessed at 12:45.)

[Here follows a two-page record of the Foreign Ministers restricted session; see infra.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 510. Secret. Although no verbatim record was made of this session, this account is a composite, prepared by Merchant, of three sets of notes taken by himself, Phleger, and Peter Wilkinson during the session. A notation on the source text reads: “Approved by the Secretary as the only complete and correct record of the meeting.” For the records of the restricted Foreign Ministers meeting and the second part of this plenary, which are all part of a 26-page text, see infra and Document 247.
  2. For text of the Western proposal on disarmament, see footnote 4, Document 232.
  3. See Documents 238 and 240.
  4. At this point (12:25) Mr. Phleger and Mr. Merchant left the room and were replaced by Mr. Stassen and Mr. Robert Anderson. Following the discussion of the three points relating to the directive on disarmament, Mr. Phleger and Mr. Merchant replaced Mr. Stassen and Mr. Anderson (12:40). [Footnote in the source text.]