314. Telegram From the Delegation at the Foreign Ministers Meeting to the Department of State1

Secto 131. East-West contacts.

[Page 662]

Overwhelming portion first meeting Committee of Experts this morning devoted to wrangle over procedures governing organization of experts work, with Soviets obstinately insisting that general discussion of two papers on Item III, tabled yesterday in meeting of ForMins,2 must precede establishment procedures on how work of the experts should be organized. Objective of Western delegations on other hand was to obtain agreement on establishment 2 working parties (one on trade and the other on information and ideas, and exchange of persons) and to put them to work at earliest opportunity in order cover wide range of problems and prepare report in brief time allotted experts.

Vinogradov paraded whole range of arguments supporting Soviet position that general discussion of substance essential to appropriate orientation of such working parties as may be established. Issue deadlocked almost 2 hours when Western delegations agreed that Vinogradov could make his comments on the substance of 2 proposals, provided it were agreed (a) that meeting tomorrow would be convened at 10 a.m., (b) that general discussion would not be extended beyond 11:15 a.m. tomorrow, (c) that working groups would then be established and other problems such as chairmanship of working groups and the nature of the report to be submitted by Nov. 10 would be considered. In this way Western viewpoint prevailed on important matters of procedure debate on which consumed much time.

Vinogradov statement essentially a rehash of Molotov treatment of E-W contacts yesterday.3 He asserted that Western memorandum not prepared with the view to becoming eventually joint proposal of the 4 powers, that it addressed itself essentially to contacts between the 3 Western powers and the USSR while the summit directive spoke of East-West contacts. He added that the Western document also contains number of points which Soviets cannot give consideration since they pertain to the internal jurisdiction of states. Soviets could also raise certain questions and make critical observations, he said, but refrained therefrom because would not prove constructive. While Soviet Delegation believes in the primacy of trade expansion, trade placed at very end and dealt with only incidentally in Western memorandum, without any reference to abolition of barriers to trade and the free development of trade. Thus Vinogradov said, it seems evident that although proposal of Western powers contains certain [Page 663] proposals deserving consideration, it cannot become the basis of discussion for the Committee of Experts.

Vinogradov then proposed that the Soviet document be made the basis of discussion for the experts, since it contains provisions which may be acceptable to all 4 powers. Sovs have made no attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, he said, and have tried not to emphasize differences. Sovs consider that the most important question under Item III is the free development of economic relations. Trade should be given top priority in the consideration of Item III because the basis of the life of peoples is economic. All countries are interested in free trade and the elimination of barriers to free trade, he added. At present normal economic relations do not exist owing to the introduction of discriminatory measures in trade and restrictions on credit and free navigation. Sovs cannot accept Western interpretation of the causes for these restrictions.

At present a certain détente exists and we all wish to strengthen and develop this trend. We must therefore consider elimination of discriminatory barriers artificially set up to restrict trade. The Western proposal gives the impression that trade should be increased only in commodities not on embargo lists. This not in accord with desires Heads of Govt and does not correspond with wishes of businessmen and the people. Can leave items not on lists to traders who have only to agree on terms. We must concern ourselves with articles which now cannot be bought and sold he said and added it appears necessary to observe that on the question of what goods should be placed on strategic lists there are differences of opinion. Vinogradov then pointed out that there is no embargo in the USSR on export of goods. One can find among Soviet exports a number of articles considered strategic by Western powers. He concluded by remarking it was not normal 10 years after the war that navigation in some parts of the world should be dangerous and not free.

Before adjourning meeting Baillou, who chaired, put following question to Vinogradov: Does the fact that in his exposé Vinogradov omitted reference to exchange of information and ideas well as exchange of persons signify that Sovs consider these unimportant and that they should not be considered? Vinogradov replied that Sovs regard these exchanges as very important and wished only to emphasize Sov view that widening and strengthening economic links constitutes the best basis for developing East-West contacts.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/11–255. Secret. Repeated to Moscow, Paris, London, Bonn, and the Mission at the United Nations. The first meeting of the Committee of Experts on East-West Contacts took place at 11 a.m.
  2. For texts of proposals on item III, MFM/DOC/18 and 19 Rev. 1, tabled on October 31, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 239–240 and 245–248, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 163–166.
  3. See Document 310.