27. Telegram From the Department of State to the Office of the High Commissioner for Austria1

2893. Dept concurs British reaction cautious optimism (London’s 45602) and agrees Western attitude and actions should avoid creation any impression other than West intention conclude acceptable Austrian treaty quickly as possible. Western initiative this respect as suggested French (Paris 44863) has we believe considerable merit as has suggestion Moscow’s 18164 Western powers drafting guarantee document. Some doubt however re net advantage West being on record as taking initiative in proposing any form guarantee which in any event would require most careful study and Congressional consideration here.

We are considering suggesting to UK and France that we agree upon and announce soonest: 1) establishment April 25 tripartite working group consider results Austro-Soviet talks; 2) invitation Soviets and Austrians ambassadorial conference Vienna beginning immediately after NATO ministerial meeting5 (perhaps May 16) to resume negotiations Austrian treaty; 3) Western view that if successful ambassadorial conference should be followed promptly by meeting Foreign Ministers to conclude treaty.

Foregoing proposals of course depend upon report received from High Commissioners Vienna following their talk with Austrians which we hope will further clarify what actually took place Moscow and include High Commissioners assessment present situation. Meanwhile desire addressees comments.

Also recommend consideration tripartite expression to Raab and Schaerf undesirability further extremely optimistic public statements particularly to forestall such statements on tenth anniversary establishment second Austrian Republic. Three West High Commissioners could explain to Raab and Schaerf that lack clarity Soviet intentions on neutrality and guarantee and absence West views those points [Page 45] argue for greater caution. Such public statements prejudice West position and may make negotiations more difficult and costly.

Austrian Govt, should be requested furnish West with substance, form and time limit proposed Austrian declaration against military alliances.

London and Paris requested obtain views FonOffs soonest on foregoing minus contents second paragraph.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 663.001/4–1555. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Freund and Allen; cleared by Beam; and signed by Merchant for the Secretary of State. Also sent to Paris and London and repeated to Moscow and Bonn.
  2. Telegram 4560 reported that the Foreign Office’s initial reaction was one of cautious optimism, tempered by a belief that concessions to Austria presaged a “new gambit on Germany”. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 4486 reported that Jurgensen was extremely gloomy over the situation and suggested that the Western powers should take the initiative and propose a meeting of Ambassadors at Vienna for mid-May. (Ibid.)
  4. Telegram 1816 reported that a four-power guarantee seemed to be the only remaining question and suggested that it be drafted by the Western powers. (Ibid.)
  5. For documentation on the NAC Ministerial meeting at Paris, May 9–11, see vol. iv, pp. 6 ff.
  6. On April 18 the Embassy in Paris reported that Jurgensen agreed in general with the policy outlined in this telegram, but expressed the opinion that a Foreign Ministers conference would be better than one of Ambassadors. (Telegram 4520 from Paris; Department of State, Central Files, 663.001/4–1855) On the following day the Embassy in London reported that it would not approach the Foreign Office since the British Embassy at Washington had on April 18 asked the Department of State for a speedier course of action than that outlined in this telegram. (Telegram 4613 from London; ibid., 663.001/4–1955) No further record of the British approach has been found in Department of State files.