385. Telegram From the Office of the Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council to the Department of State1

Polto 850. Subject: Private session NAC November 21. At brief private session De Margerie noted NAC had been kept informed of factual developments at Geneva.2 Said he would confine his remarks to presentation of “atmosphere” of conference. Emphasized point Soviet delegation evidenced little or no interest outside of conference room in seeking contacts with any of tripartite dels. Gave examples of several instances in which Soviet del could have been expected seek such contacts in order achieve at least minor accommodations [Page 807] yet did not do so. Pointed out Molotov appeared to be man acting under rigid instructions. Noted apparent stiffening after his return from Moscow but also noted had made effort in last speech3 retain “spirit of Geneva”. In explanation latter point suggested Russians might simply think it enough to talk about spirit of Geneva without feeling compelled do anything about it.

Said tripartite dels had impression Soviets now view time in their favor. Noted marked change from Soviet attitude at Berlin Conference4 which had come only six or seven months after East German riots. At Geneva Russians gave impression they were confident they had mended their fences in East Germany and seemed eager display their new confidence. This connection mentioned Molotov’s conversation with Pinay in which former exhibited conviction Soviet social system would hold up in front of new Germany whereas UK and French would not.

De Margerie wound up by observing too soon reach precise conclusions but tentatively following seemed apparent:

Soviet diplomacy now showing less interest in multilateral conference and can hereafter perhaps be satisfied in near future with bilateral efforts “to score single victories”.
NATO appears to have inspired some fear in Moscow and Soviets can be expected go after NATO “hammer and tong”. This connection De Margerie suggested closest NAC liaison to keep finger on pulse expected new type Soviet diplomacy.
While few had expected much reconciliation on items 1 and 2 at Geneva some had been surprised at Soviet willingness get nowhere with item 3 and at apparent Russian fear intrusion Western ideas other side of curtain.

After conclusion De Margerie’s remarks Perkins asked him how he accounted for difference in attitudes displayed by Soviets between first and second Geneva conferences. De Margerie replied that at heads of government meeting a menu had been adopted. At second Geneva, problem was to cook. Whereas he had no convincing explanation differing Soviet attitudes at two meetings it appeared they believe they could keep spirit of Geneva alive without themselves offering anything. Danish and Belgian PermReps asked for fuller explanation response to Perkins question but De Margerie had little else to say on this subject. Greek PermRep wanted to know whether Russian attitude at second Geneva was “show of power for benefit of satellites”. De Margerie said he thought this was case especially with respect East Germany. Canadian Perm Rep said he was puzzled [Page 808] by absence attempts on Molotov’s part divide West. De Margerie responded he had impression Molotov was acting under strict instructions and had little flexibility permit him seek find weak points in Western tactics.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 560. Secret.
  2. Representatives from the three Western delegations at the Geneva Conference briefed the NAC each week on the progress of the Foreign Ministers.
  3. For text of Molotov’s closing statement, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 297–304, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 178–183.
  4. For documentation on the Foreign Ministers meeting at Berlin, January 25–February 17, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. vii, Part 1, pp. 601 ff.