364. Memorandum of a Conversation, Hotel du Rhone, Geneva, November 13, 1955, 10 a.m.–Noon1



  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Ambassador Bohlen
  • U.S.S.R.
    • Mr. Molotov
    • Mr. Sobolev
    • Mr. Troyanovsky


  • 1. Embargo on Trade with Communist China
  • 2. The Tanker Tuapse
  • 3. Conference Matters
  • 4. Middle East Situation

[Here follows discussion of the first two subjects.]

3. Conference Matters

Mr. Molotov said he would like to discuss the status of the Conference if the hour was not too late and he was not keeping Mr. Dulles from his visit to the country.2

The Secretary said he was always ready to sacrifice his hours in the country if any positive results could be accomplished. Mr. Molotov agreed that this was their duty.

He said Mr. Dulles knew the positions of the Soviet Government on the questions discussed at the Conference and wished to know if he had any views as to how the Conference could be concluded.

The Secretary replied that unfortunately we did not have any great agreements to record. He would say that the discussion on Item 1 had been a great disappointment. On Item 2, however, he felt the discussions had been useful, and hoped they had brought about a better and more sympathetic understanding of our respective points of view. He said that the task of solution in this field lay with the United Nations Sub-committee, and he did not believe the Ministers here could come to any settlement, but he felt that by their discussion they might have contributed to the work of the Sub-committee.

The Secretary said the Ministers still had to discuss Item 3, but the work of the Experts had shown little progress in this field. He thought that since the Ministers were meeting by direction of the Heads of Government, they should each respectively report to their [Page 768] Heads of Government in regard to the progress or lack of progress under each Item, and then leave it up to them. He was not, of course, suggesting that they should meet again, but that each Head of Government should examine the report from his Foreign Minister, and then if desired they might communicate through diplomatic channels.

Mr. Molotov pointed out that the Heads of Government, in any case, always have the possibility of communication with each other.

The Secretary enquired if Mr. Molotov had any ideas on termination of the Conference. Mr. Molotov said he had nothing new to contribute to their joint discussion. He said the Soviet Delegation had been very desirous of reaching agreement on Items 1 and 2 and had put forward proposals to that end. He believed, however, that there had been certain favorable results from the discussion.

On Item 1, the three Western Heads of Government had been well aware, after the July Conference, of the Soviet position on this Item, and the proposals and drafts which he had put forward here simply confirmed positions which the Soviet Government had held during the Heads of Government meeting.

On Item 2, they had felt that this was a matter which in the first place was of concern not only to the members of the Sub-committee but to all members of the United Nations, and secondly, that a discussion of this subject by the Foreign Ministers would contribute to progress on this question.

On Contacts, the Soviet Delegation considered that the Heads of Government had submitted this point in a desire to contribute to progress in this field. All recognized the desirability of bringing about the reduction of international tensions, and they believed that commercial contacts would have great importance in this field—of course, along with political contacts. On the cultural contacts, they had hoped here to make progress and to work out some practical steps to that end. However, they did not consider it advisable to deal here with matters which were essentially internal questions of this or that country. For example, the rate of the ruble and analogous questions did not seem to them appropriate. They were, however, interested in developing contacts in cultural, scientific, and economic fields, and also tourism. This question was rife, and they should be able to take some practical steps, possibly bilaterally, on a general basis, however, which might be agreed here.

The Secretary said he thought also that these fields lent themselves more to bilateral than multilateral agreements. But, here, he felt, progress would be less on the basis of an agreement than by each state taking voluntarily such measures as conformed with its interests and those of international relations in general. There were many areas of international trade which might be advantageously developed, and if there were any specific trade items of interest to the [Page 769] USSR and the U.S., these particular items might usefully be discussed bilaterally. For example, he said he was revealing no great secret if he said that the U.S. had substantial surpluses of agricultural commodities. If the Soviet Government was interested in that type of trade, they might profitably discuss it. As to the ruble rate, he recognized that this was predominantly an internal matter, but felt it was appropriate to point out the fact, and it was a fact, that the ruble rate did constitute a barrier to the exchange of persons. What was done in regard to the ruble was, of course, up to the Soviet Government, but he thought it was quite appropriate to point out the fact that it did constitute a limitation. He did not think the rate of the ruble could, of course, be the subject for either a multilateral or bilateral agreement.

The Secretary said they had hoped to have worked out more facilities for an exchange of information, press, and radio, but he gathered from the report of the Experts3 that they had not made much progress in this field. Mr. Molotov said they wished to repeat their view that it would be natural to find some serious basis for the development of economic relations. He did not mean merely in regard to any one type of commodity such as agricultural supplies, but an agreement for the removal of obstacles to trade which had at the present time lost their purpose. He said that on the cultural and other types of contacts, he felt they could reach some useful results if all were desirous of so doing.

He then enquired whether the Secretary had any further subjects to raise. The Secretary said he did not think so. He had already touched on the question of the satellites and international Communism, which as Mr. Molotov knew, we loved to discuss. But, we never found any comparable desire on their part.

Mr. Molotov said he felt it would hardly be useful unless they wished to enter into a very complicated discussion here. The Secretary said he had earlier said he was willing to postpone his luncheon if they could accomplish some results, but he doubted if discussion on these subjects could do this. However, if Mr. Molotov could guarantee positive results, he would be prepared to forgo his luncheon.

Mr. Molotov said they would have something to say on these subjects, but he said it would not be very pleasing to Mr. Dulles.

4. The Middle East Situation

As the meeting was breaking up, the Secretary said he assumed Mr. Molotov had nothing new on the Arab-Israel situation. Mr. Molotov replied there had been no new developments requiring special [Page 770] consideration, but he was of the opinion that things were quieting down in that area. The Secretary said he certainly hoped so.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 584. Secret. Drafted by Bohlen on November 17.
  2. Dulles was having lunch with Macmillan at 12:15. A memorandum of their conversation, in which Dulles reported his discussion with Molotov, is ibid.
  3. Presumably a reference to Document 362.
  4. Molotov and Dulles also discussed U.N. membership.