346. Telegram From the Delegation at the Foreign Ministers Meetings to the Department of State1

Secto 231. East-West Trade. Trade Working Group held sixth and final meeting Wednesday with Tippetts, UK, in chair. D’Harcourt, French Rep, said he supported proposals made by US in field civil aviation but felt that problems raised by Dr. Tunkin (USSR) regarding freedom of seas were political not legal and could hardly be dealt with by Trade Working Group.

UK Rep said of course UK attaches greatest importance concept of freedom of seas but the matters raised yesterday2 did not concern obstacles created by the Four Powers and little point Trade Working Group discussing them. Said UK supported US proposals civil aviation tabled yesterday.3

Tunkin then declaimed again subject interference Merchant shipping high seas. Referring Western position that these matters outside direct jurisdiction Four Powers Tunkin quoted paragraph three Geneva directive to support contention any interference communications or trade between peoples proper subject Foreign Ministers discussion, especially where possible action in United Nations involved.

Tunkin proceeded specify obstacles Soviets had in mind including seizure Tuapse,4” aerial inspection Soviet shipping areas Japan Sea, China Sea and Yellow Sea and UK refusal Singapore bunkers to Soviet Merchant ship Nicolaev bound Odessa to North Vietnam. In case Tuapse said US not completely innocent since vessel fired upon by armed forces under US control and since in such cases US aircraft conduct reconnaissance to inform Formosa forces to enable latter to make their attacks. Said aerial inspection by US aircraft increasing, involving 454 vessels 1953, 633 in 1954 and 736 from January 1, 1955 to October 23, 1955. Could cite many other examples obstructions to shipping which contribute to increase of international tension. Thus there are no grounds for Western powers refusing discuss these problems.

As to proposals in the field of civil aviation Tunkin said Soviet view was that present air transport arrangements did not constitute [Page 733] an obstacle to trade and they could see no reason to discuss in working group. Bilateral air transport agreements could always be negotiated through normal diplomatic channels and would be considered each on its merits.

US Rep asked if USSR now disposed to negotiate bilateral air agreement with the US. As to the shipping problems raised by Soviets, allegations regarding US responsibility Tuapse seizure without foundation in fact and offensive US. Regarding aerial reconnaissance, said US shouldering large burden protecting world security in Far East and undoubtedly US aircraft made many flights over waters far Pacific. US could not see how such activity constituted hindrance free passage Merchant vessels. As for withholding bunkers from vessels carrying strategic goods Communist China this merely logical corollary UN embargo resolution designed implement embargo strategic goods Communist China.

As to Tunkin’s contention violations principle freedom of seas came within purview Geneva directive and terms reference working group US Rep said doubted as practical matter if powers represented here could concern themselves with obstacles not due to or maintained by own actions. Noted that many other legal and political principles dear to hearts of Western peoples (and possibly also Soviet peoples) such as freedom press, speech, worship, trial by jury, free elections, etc. Not business working group formulate grandiose declarations principle but to consider concrete measures.

D’Harcourt (France) had nothing say on shipping matters raised by USSR except to note France had offered good offices in connection repatriation seized vessel and crew. Asked French colleague Morel speak on civil aviation. Morel said West agreed Soviet Rep’s civil air agreements would have to be negotiated bilaterally but would like some declaration indicating all parties agreed in principle desirability concluding air agreements. Noted USSR had concluded number such agreements with Eastern European countries plus Finland, Yugoslavia, Austria.

UK Rep adverted briefly to bunkering controls which he said not discriminatory since applied in pursuance UN resolution May 18, 1951, and merely intended enforce on vessels other nations same restrictions as to carriage strategic goods observed by British shipping. Asked if USSR agreed desirability undertaking negotiate bilateral air agreements Western powers soon as possible.

Cheklin (USSR) then complained that when real problems brought up like that of trade discriminations or restrictions of free passage ships in Far Eastern waters his colleagues plead lack of competence. Said large area of East containing millions of people deprived of peaceful conditions normal trade by these restrictions which the powers can not ignore if they wish to comply directive. [Page 734] Not enough merely to give reasons for restrictions, which in any case Soviets could not accept.

US Rep again emphasized unwillingness Soviet Reps face up to specific proposals of Western powers, citing failure reply to questions on desirability civil air agreements, as well as proposals relating to eliminating difficulties for private traders, protection industrial property rights and availability economic data. Added up to palpable unwillingness take initiative or see anyone else take initiative develop peaceful trade.

Morel (France) again spoke to Western proposals civil aviation dwelling on difficulties caused travellers by necessity transferring Prague or Helsinki. Asked whether when Soviet Rep said bilateral agreements would be considered on merits he had in mind agreements providing reciprocal landing rights. In reply Cheklin said he saw nothing in present arrangements which constituted obstacle to trade but that proposals should be made through diplomatic channels.

In concluding round D’Harcourt regretted lack of progress made in working group. Cheklin deplored tendency Western powers blame everything on USSR. Cited drop in US-Soviet trade since 1947 and asked what patents and civil aviation problems had to do with this. Hoped experts would look at these problems in different light and discuss real obstacles to trade. Chairman expressed gratification at cordial atmosphere of meetings and adjourned.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/11–1055. Confidential. Also sent to the Mission at the United Nations. Repeated to London, Paris, Bonn, and Moscow. Passed to Defense. The sixth meeting of the Working Group on Trade met at 10:30 a.m. on November 9.
  2. See Document 338.
  3. See Tab C to Document 362.
  4. The Soviet Union claimed that the Tuapse had been seized by the United States in June 1954 off Taiwan. For documentation concerning the Tuapse, see Foreign Relations 1952–1954, vol. xiv, Part 1, pp. 472542, passim.