56. Telegram From the Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State1

Secto 10. Following is summary of discussion of Austria in meeting of US, UK and French Foreign Ministers afternoon May 8:2

Pinay opened by saying results of discussions in Vienna had been encouraging and apparently there would be no difficulty on text of treaty. Question of guarantee remained unsettled. Suggested it was desirable that Four Powers take note of Austrian declaration of neutrality and agree to support Austria for membership in UN and non-military international organizations. Also appeared desirable Four Powers guarantee Austrian integrity and neutrality. However, guarantee of integrity raised problem for French and US. On other hand, it might have advantage of giving basis for maintenance of US forces in Europe after German settlement.

Pinay suggested Western Powers were still not clear on Soviet intentions, i.e., whether they would require agreement on guarantee as condition to signing treaty. He wondered whether Ministers could go to Vienna until this point had been clarified. He also suggested it might make bad psychological impression to meet with Molotov just after he had come from Warsaw, where he was supposed to set up some kind of Eastern bloc.3

Secretary said US had impression, which was not yet confirmed, that guarantee might not come up at this stage. There was some indication USSR would sign treaty without making guarantee precondition.

Macmillan said there were three items to be acted on:

Treaty, on which agreement would have to be reached by Wednesday if Ministers were to go to Vienna for signing.
Austrian declaration of neutrality, terms of which would have to be known before signing. Only possible danger this involved was Austrians changing their position on language before issuing declaration, which he thought we could risk.
Guarantee. This requires good deal of thought since it involves commitments by our governments. UK Government would not be prepared to enter into commitment at this time, partly because it would be improper to give commitments during general elections and partly because, as practical matter, it would be impossible to assemble government to consider subject. He understood US also [Page 91] had difficulty in entering into commitment without consulting Senate. It could be indicated to Soviets we would be prepared to discuss question in principle, but could not enter into any engagements at Vienna. He thought this would prevent Soviets from proceeding with unilateral guarantee.

Pinay continued to urge that Ministers should assure themselves that Soviets would sign treaty without making guarantee precondition, before going to Vienna. He also suggested that Austrians should indicate content of their neutrality declaration and that Soviet reaction to Austrian declaration should be known.

Macmillan pointed out Austrians had undertaken in Moscow memorandum of understanding4 to seek guarantee from Western Powers. We should ask Austrians to table declaration of neutrality in Vienna and say this raised guarantee question, which should be considered first by Ministers and concluded subsequently by Ambassadors. He thought that wording of telegram to Molotov5 indicating that the Ministers were ready to come to Vienna to examine and sign treaty would allow Western Ministers to deal with Molotov on subject, provided it were clear that there was agreement on terms of declaration, and that we would only negotiate regarding guarantee. Both he and Pinay expressed concern regarding possibility of unilateral Soviet guarantee.

Secretary said he understood text of Austrian declaration would be tabled in Vienna Monday, and that Austrians had indicated in Moscow they would accept a Four Power guarantee but not a unilateral guarantee by USSR. He thought Western Powers were protected by terms of telegram to Molotov referred to by Macmillan. Secretary agreed with Macmillan that question of guarantee would have to be examined very carefully. He doubted very much whether US could give guarantee in strict sense. We could perhaps make statement that we would undertake to respect Austrian neutrality and to consider breach of neutrality grave event calling for consultation. We might possibly be able to consider guarantee if it could be done within context of UN Charter. He doubted that US could guarantee borders of Austria permanently. If this were precondition to conclusion treaty, he did not think US could sign.

Pinay again reverted to question of desirability of Ministers going to Vienna without knowing whether Soviets would sign the treaty in absence of agreement on guarantee. Secretary said he understood we were to get answer on this point. Question was also implicit in message sent to Molotov. If both responses were favorable, he felt Ministers could safely go to Vienna.

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Pinay said question would have to be decided in light of Molotov’s answer to telegram.

(In subsequent private conversation member of the French delegation said French were concerned that discussion with Ilyichev had been inconclusive since it was not clear that he was speaking for Moscow. Member US delegation told him he understood that Ilyichev was asked confirm his statement that guarantee not precondition.)

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 663.001/5–955. Secret; Niact; Priority. Sent also to Vienna and repeated to Moscow and London.
  2. The meeting took place at 3:30 p.m. For a French account of this meeting, see Documents Diplomatiques Français, 1955, Annexes, Tome 1, pp. 95–102.
  3. Reference is to the East European security conference held at Warsaw during the second week of May.
  4. See Document 26.
  5. Reference is the message transmitted in Document 54.