331. Telegram From the Delegation at the Foreign Ministers Meetings to the Department of State 1

Secto 195. East-West contacts. Contacts Working Group spent seven hours Friday [Saturday] in two sessions which produced almost no agreement and very little progress on work before it. Meeting began with discussion UK paper (circulated Friday night2) identifying items in tripartite memorandum3 not accepted by Soviets for agenda, on which Western dels proposed to speak on Tuesday. Soviets indicated they had no objection discussion these items Tuesday if Soviet items not on agenda could be discussed also. Stoessel who chaired then suggested that Working Group proceed to second point of agreed agenda (items 6, 7, 12 of Western memorandum together with 5(a) and 5(b) of Soviet proposal4).

Before work could begin Kemenov returned to first point of agenda advancing interpretation to effect that West had accepted in principle substance of item three in Soviet proposal. This necessitated round of Western statements repeating what Western dels had already made clear: (a) That subject to full understanding of agreement or disagreement on all items which may come before it. Western dels had agreed in principle that it would be desirable to widen such contacts in scientific field as were to the mutual advantage of countries concerned; (b) That precise formulation of understandings should be left for later consideration.

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Kemenov then suggested that he was hopeful of persuading Western dels re desirability of convening atomic energy conference in public health field and Professor Khvostov read paper on this subject.5 This compelled Western dels to restate their position this matter. Here Kemenov returned again to question of language, urging that language of final draft report to Ministers should reflect concrete and practical Soviet proposals.

Thus exposition by Western dels of their proposals re films, exhibits and exchange expert delegations along lines agreed tripartite position finally got underway. US placed major emphasis on exhibits with British and French concentrating on other two items. Both UK and French spoke frankly about obstacles; UK on imbalance in films field where only one British film sold to USSR since 1951 and French referring to past Soviet practice selecting individuals for ideological rather than scientific qualifications. UK with tongue in cheek also offered to make available to Red Army Museum exhibition of UK contribution to war effort which turned down in 1948.

When Hohler indicated that Soviets must decide whether their purpose to establish closer relations with UK scientists, etc., or to lend support to organizations which do not represent broad masses of British people, Kemenov complained that Hohler remarks do not contribute to creation friendly atmosphere.

Kemenov then criticized exposition Western dels observing that nothing said about Soviet points 5(a) and (b) which should be discussed simultaneously with relevant items in tripartite memorandum. He requested Western views on Soviet points. When Western dels explained that they had given detailed explanation own proposals and would be in better position comment on Soviet items, on which they expected Soviet exposition, when they had heard what specific, concrete matters Soviets wished to convey with their rather general language, Soviet stalling and obstructionism went into high gear.

Kemenov first suggested that session should terminate at 6 pm and he would provide explanation Tuesday. When Western dels indicated prepared to stay until 7:30, Kemenov claimed there had been agreement to end at 6 pm (this untrue); besides had important engagement which he must keep. Western dels then suggested Sunday meeting. This also rejected by Kemenov with false claim that agreement existed for no Sunday meetings with lecture about the uselessness of making agreements if they are to [be] broken. Here Western dels emphasized their understanding that Tuesday would be devoted to discussion non-agenda items of tripartite and Soviet proposals. Kemenov then attempted so-called “compromise” gambit suggesting that he would supply explanation items 5(a) and (b) of Soviet proposal [Page 694] Tuesday morning and that Tuesday afternoon would be set aside for non-agenda items. This, he said, in accord with practice adhered to by Foreign Ministers.

Western dels stuck to guns, however. They pointed out that Foreign Ministers frequently interrupted discussion items to consider other matters and insisted that prior agreement existed to devote Tuesday to non-agenda items. Meeting broke up on very discouraging note at 7:20 with complete impasse on agenda for Tuesday discussion and with chairman Stoessel undertaking to refer issue to four experts (Jackson, Vinogradov, etc.), for their determination.

At meeting later in evening experts met and achieved compromise arrangement on procedure for Tuesday which offers some hope that certain agreements may yet be reached to justify continuation of exercise which thus far has resulted only in disappointment and frustration.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/11–655. Secret. Repeated to Paris, London, Bonn, Moscow, and the Mission at the United Nations. Passed to Defense and USIA. The fourth and fifth meetings of the Working Group on Contacts were held on November 5.
  2. Not found in Department of State files.
  3. For text of the tripartite proposal, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 245–248, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 164–166.
  4. For text of the Soviet proposal, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 239–240, or Cmd. 9633, p. 163.
  5. Not found in Department of State files.
  6. The Working Group on Contacts met for 7 hours 45 minutes on Tuesday, November 8, without any progress. The Western representatives encouraged Kemenov to make accommodations in the area of information and ideas, but none was forthcoming. The U.S. Delegation reported that it was becoming apparent “that Soviet objective is to continue and if possible to expand exchanges of persons assuring USSR valuable technical know-how without making corresponding concessions in areas of particular interest to West.” (Secto 224 from Geneva, November 9; Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/11–955)