49. Telegram From the Delegation at the Vienna Ambassadorial Conference to the Department of State1

2617. After leaving Article 35,2 restricted Ambassadors’ session turned to question neutrality and guarantee at suggestion French chairman. Soviet replied they were questions for Ministers to discuss. French Ambassador said our important task is prepare way for Ministers, at least in general way, and that any information on these questions would be helpful. He asked if they would arise on occasion of signing of treaty and pointed out neutrality question bound to large extent to question of treaty. Soviet Ambassador repeated it is up to Ministers to decide what they discuss. British Ambassador pointed out it is Ambassadors’ task to prepare for Ministers discussion, to which Soviet Ambassador replied Ambassadors’ task only to prepare treaty text but that other two questions might be subjects for Ministers.

French Ambassador asked if he could conclude that Soviets prepared raise and discuss those questions at Ministers’ meeting, and Soviet Ambassador replied that they will be discussed by Ministers if they wish and is difficult for Ambassadors decide for them.

US Ambassador expressed wish for opportunity obtain some information and asked if Austrians could clarify when they intend establish neutral status. In answer series US, UK and French questions, Figl replied Austrian neutrality declaration will be made by Parliament immediately after it ratifies treaty without awaiting entry into force. Then Austrian Govt will notify all nations with which Austria has diplomatic relations and ask them respect and recognize neutral status. At same time, Austrian Govt will ask Four Powers grant guarantee that will safeguard inviolability and integrity Austrian territory. UK Ambassador mentioned possible difficulties granting recognition neutral status before Austria obtains sovereignty.

US Ambassador said he was sure Secretary will be prepared discuss either or both questions at conference and that Austrian neutrality poses no difficulties for US. Guarantee question particularly complicated for US and US Constitutional procedure that regard well known. Remarking he was being purposely blunt, US Ambassador continued by saying important thing is whether Ministers are going to sign treaty without any prior commitment or condition, or must decision on a guarantee be made beforehand. Reason US must know is that if guarantee to be a condition for signing Secretary would not [Page 84] be in position commit himself and whole treaty would be blocked. Austrian hopes had been built up and dashed many times before and very important Austrians not be deceived again. He was sure Secretary would discuss either or both questions fully and quite prepared accept Austrian neutrality. Would help if before conference Austrians at least made clear form of their forthcoming neutrality declaration.

UK Ambassador supported US comments and added his Minister would also wish more clarification re guarantee that he will be asked give.

Soviet Ambassador asked what US Constitutional difficulties are. US Ambassador replied that only Congress has power to declare war and, therefore, form of guarantee becomes very important.

French Ambassador asked if it was possible for Soviets to answer US questions. Soviet Ambassador answered he was unable to say anything. French Ambassador repeated key US question of whether guarantee is condition for signing treaty and pointed out difficulty for US Govt and need study problem before Ministerial Conference. Practical aspect, he said, was that even if Ambassadors are not going to be able to discuss guarantee here they must fix date for Ministerial meeting.

Soviet Ambassador said as far as he knew Soviet Govt never brought up such conditions. Meeting closed with US Ambassador saying he hopes have more clear answer before Ambassadorial Conference concludes.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–VI/5–555. Secret; Niact. Repeated to London, Paris, and Moscow.
  2. See telegram 2620, supra.