140. Telegram From the Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State0

Secto 23. Paris for USRO and Embassy. Following is summary second secret session NATO Ministerial Meeting afternoon May 5.1 Summary Secretary’s remarks on Arctic zone and summit meeting cabled separately.2

Session opened with Secretary reading text tripartite statement re Moscow negotiations as approved by US–UK-France in Washington.3

There being no comment on tripartite report Spaak called on Brentano.

German Foreign Minister, after expressing doubt re Soviet desire to negotiate and concluding Soviets merely looking for propaganda success, said NATO should nevertheless try to work for summit meeting since Western peoples desire it. He pointed out Soviets however were beginning by trying to ignore Geneva Agreements4 and accordingly there was probably little hope they would proceed seriously. Brentano thought summit meeting would not solve many problems but would demonstrate if Soviets willing negotiate.

Brentano thought disarmament most likely field for agreement. He said careful preparations were required and we should probe Soviet intentions during preparatory work. We must take Geneva as point of departure and not permit them “disengage” from Geneva Agreements. He said German problem could not be left out of future conference. Recent press statements to contrary had misinterpreted German position. He said Chancellor had never said discussion of Germany at major conference could be renounced.

Brentano added we must seek general political solutions. There was organic and indissoluble tie between Germany and European security. He said superficial détente which hardened status quo was [Page 333] unacceptable. Germany must necessarily be discussed at summit meeting. European security and disarmament were also linked.

Brentano gave analysis Mikoyan visit noting Blankenhorn had given report to NAC.5 He said Mikoyan statements had given no reason hope for any change in well-known Soviet attitudes such as allegation German problem could only be solved by “two Germanies”.6 He said even SPD had rejected Mikoyan views. [3 lines of source text not declassified]

German Foreign Minister thought some cultural ties with Soviets along lines US-USSR agreement desirable.7 He concluded disarmament should be dominant theme any summit meeting. August 29 proposals remaining although we might rephrase them to make them more difficult for Soviets to reject. He thought any idea of small zones was unacceptable but that if Soviets proposed large zone we should study carefully. He ended saying Soviets must show willingness negotiate on political problems before we could make any progress.

Lloyd spoke next analyzing Soviet motives re summit meeting. He concluded real reason for Soviet desire hold such session was belief this forum best served their interests. They could muzzle public opinion at home and at same time appeal to opinion in free world through vague generalities, while simultaneously avoiding any real commitments.

British Foreign Secretary added Soviet positions had hardened recently especially since West met April 17 deadline for talks in Moscow following which our position had improved.8 He said he favored summit meeting if it would provide something useful and this meant preparation, during which we must not abandon positions of strength without compensation.

Lloyd stressed heavily need maintain tie between conventional and nuclear armaments in light great Soviet conventional superiority. Reliance on nuclear disarmament would be fatal. He also hoped Soviets [Page 334] could be kept on defensive in propaganda field and referred to UK proposals to Soviets in cultural domain as useful in this context.

Lloyd said West was right not break with Soviets on procedural issues. Separate meetings of three Ambassadors with Gromyko in Moscow was ridiculous procedure and possibly somewhat humiliating but we were correct in accepting it. On parity he said English opinion saw little difference if satellites were present in 4–4, 5–5 or some other ratio. Soviet Union had its parrots already in UN and their presence here would merely be nuisance. Furthermore it was uncertain if Soviets really gained from presence their satellites. He concluded he was not pronouncing a view on parity today since UK had not made up its mind.

He concluded we should start with study of controlled disarmament agreement. We could adopt one of three methods—we could revert to comprehensive UK-French proposals of 1954–1956, we could stick to “partial comprehensive” project of August 19579 or we separate some element from 1957 package. He concluded essential point was not permit wedge to be driven on separating conventional and nuclear weapons.

Pineau reported DeJean had received two letters from Gromyko one to be published May 6. Second note of 20 pages would be circulated in NAC tomorrow but at first glance appeared contain little new.10 He then summarized French position. We were correct in not stressing procedural questions which public understands badly. We could not complain too much because we had got Soviets to accept concept of preparatory work up through Foreign Ministers’ meeting. He agreed Soviet motives were complex and that they had created many more obstacles recently.

With regard to disarmament French Foreign Minister said August 29 proposals still valid and he regretted Soviets had flatly rejected them even though we had never said we would not be willing amend them. He also repeated French position that link between cessation nuclear [Page 335] testing and nuclear weapons production must be retained. Greatest danger was not nuclear testing but nuclear war. Disarmament which did not include Soviet territory would merely crystallize status quo and destroy existing security balance in Europe. Political problems also cannot be neglected and no arrangement which might lead withdrawal NATO troops from Continent would be acceptable.

After Secretary’s statement (reported separately)11 Dutch Foreign Minister stated West needed to make known its views more effectively and admitted Soviets had made propaganda gains. He said European forces must have nuclear weapons. Soviets wished prevent this and would make particular efforts in this direction. He said not only Rapacki Plan12 but Western disengagement ideas were highly dangerous in absence political settlements. No European security system was possible in light existing political situation. Disengagement was obviously dangerous militarily and carried heavy political risks as well. Fact forces were facing each other in Europe was symptom not cause of tension. Tension could be reduced by strengthening shield forces but few nations seemed desire incur cost involved. Risk of war caused by incident under existing situation was minor compared to danger of vacuum in Europe. Luns said political antagonisms might cause Soviets to start war. War could be caused by upheavals in satellites. Disengagement therefore would only be safe in event basic improvement political situation. He admitted difficulty making convincing case to public in event balance conventional forces proposed for Rapacki-type zone but pointed out obvious danger since Soviet forces could withdraw behind their frontiers still posing as great threat as ever.

Luns concluded agreeing with Spaak re Moscow talks that “3” were not political directorate of NATO but were acting as spokesmen for NATO views, and in light their special responsibilities. He noted these responsibilities could devolve on other NATO members in other situations.

Final speaker was Greek Foreign Minister who said he had no comment on procedure. However he wished stress nuclear menace now existing. In light this threat we must seek talks with Soviets and at same time ensure that public opinion does not lose sight real Soviet policies. He believed disarmament best place to start but both sides must make [Page 336] concessions in order reach agreement. He thought our present policies should continue steadfastly since Soviets might not be able afford arms race indefinitely.

It was agreed meet again 10:00 a.m. May 6. Spaak and International Staff will prepare first draft communiqué.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1-CO/5–658. Secret. Transmitted in two sections. Repeated to Paris and pouched to the NATO capitals and Moscow.
  2. The verbatim (C-VR(58)32) record of this session, dated May 5, is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 1000.
  3. Sectos 22 and 29, May 6. (ibid., Central Files, 330.13/5–658 and 396.1/5–658, respectively)
  4. Reference is to the tripartite statement that the British, French, and U.S. Ambassadors in Moscow presented to the Soviet Government on May 3; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, May 26, 1958, p. 852.
  5. Reference is to the agreements reached at the Heads of Government Meeting in Geneva July 18–23, 1955.
  6. The report to the NAC of Herbert A. Blankenhorn, German Permanent Representative to NATO, on the visit of Anastas Mikoyan, First Vice Chairman of the Soviet Council of Ministers, to Germany April 25–28 was summarized in Polto 3475 from Paris, April 28. (Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/4–2858)
  7. Mikoyan’s views on the role of the two Germanies in reunification were reported in The New York Times, April 27, 1958, p. 3.
  8. For text of a joint communiqué containing the agreement on exchanges in the cultural, technical, and educational fields between the United States and the Soviet Union on January 27, 1958, see Department of State Bulletin, February 17, 1958, pp. 243–247.
  9. The Soviet aide-mémoire of April 11 called for an exchange of views with the United States, United Kingdom, and France beginning on April 17 in Moscow on preparations for a meeting of Foreign Ministers. This aide-mémoire and the British, French, and U.S. reply of April 16 acceding to the Soviet request are printed ibid., May 5, 1958, pp. 727–728.
  10. Reference is to the U.K.-French memoranda of June 11, 1954, March 29, 1955, April 19, 1955, March 19, 1956, and May 3, 1956, and the Western working paper on proposals for partial measures of disarmament of August 29, 1957, all submitted to the Subcommittee of the U.N. Disarmament Commission. For texts, see Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, vol. I, pp. 423–124, 452–453, 453–454, 595–598, and vol. II, pp. 868–874, respectively.
  11. Reference is presumably to the Soviet aide-mémoire and a 14- (not 20) page document, “Proposals of the Soviet Government on Questions Put Forward for Consideration at the Conference With the Participation of the Heads of Government,” which Gromyko handed to the British, U.S., and French Ambassadors in separate interviews in Moscow on May 5. Maurice DeJean was the French Ambassador in Moscow. The Soviet Government published its aide-mémoire on May 5. The two documents were transmitted to the Department of State in telegrams 1918 and 1926 from Moscow, May 5. (Both in Department of State, Central Files, 396.1/5–558)
  12. See footnote 2 above.
  13. The Rapacki Plan, first proposed by Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on October 2, 1957, subsequently renewed through diplomatic channels, called for the establishment of a denuclearized zone in Poland, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, and the Federal Republic of Germany. For text of Rapacki’s address, see Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, vol. II, pp. 889–892.