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

Secto 33. Paris for USRO and Embassy. Ref immediately preceding telegram on 3rd plenary session NATO Ministerial Meeting May 6.1

Lange (Norway) said since December main focus NAC work has been how break deadlock with Soviets, particularly on disarmament. From standpoint public opinion in NATO countries and uncommitted areas West must make clear willing adopt any reasonable procedure to have real negotiations with Soviets. Glad three powers have begun diplomatic discussions with Soviets and are showing flexibility. Said could see at some stage desirability “dialogue” between two powers (meaning U.S. and USSR) if this would elicit real intentions of Soviets. Idea summit meeting has caught imagination peoples of world and pressure for it will increase in months ahead. Norway supports [Page 341] Western Four disarmament proposals, but package perhaps too comprehensive and too complicated explain as a package. Agreed with Lloyd time has come consider breaking it up. It was good idea take U.S. Arctic zone proposal out of package and propose it separately. Another measure that may be ripe for singling out is to suspend testing after U.S. and U.K. complete present series tests. Soviets could then be pressed on control and cessation production. European security another problem at forefront. Norway agrees necessity keep German reunification in freedom as major policy aim. But does not seem necessary exclude all security measures in Europe unless solution reunification problem achieved at same time. Agreed with Hansen there is good reason consider possibility of limiting military action in certain areas Central Europe. But must not upset security balance or create special status for one member of Alliance. West must use imagination in developing proposals that will appeal public opinion. Agreed with Lloyd any such proposals must not be based on distinction between atomic and conventional weapons. To single out nuclear weapons would give advantage to Soviets. We do not know whether Soviets want relaxation. Must probe intentions. In view slackening of economic activity in West, Soviets may be tempted put off summit meeting for several months or year until West in crisis and Soviet negotiating position stronger. If West wants good posture at FM or summit meeting, must agree on coordinated ways set our economics on road renewed expansion. Soviets will not negotiate seriously if they can split NATO unity. Norway attaches greatest importance to work Permanent Council in coming months, in order reach agreed negotiating posture. Must maintain military strength. Need new ideas and initiatives in political field, in order not just react to Soviets. Norway not satisfied by work of NATO preparatory committees to date. Permanent Council must weigh conclusions of committees from political standpoint. Agreed with SmithNATO must consider implementation defense measures in light progress toward solution outstanding issues.

Cunha (Portugal) said negotiations with Soviets number one problem. Does not have any hopes for results but West in situation where must do all in power demonstrate we intend go to summit if careful preparation made. Opposes parity but we should not take rigid position now, as we may have accept satellites or appear have caused failure summit meeting.

Re agenda, should include disarmament and German reunification. Need more continuous consultation in Permanent Council. More imagination needed, such as U.S. Arctic proposal, which excellent. Must maintain our defenses. Supported increased economic cooperation.

Larock (Belgium) agreed with those who now see more clearly dangers and difficulties of possible summit meeting. In view what we know of Soviet intentions, cannot expect any success from such a meeting. [Page 342] Khrushchev wants consolidate Soviet power and appear as champion of peace. “Illusory expect real negotiations from him.” Read excerpts from long report from Belgian Amb Moscow reporting talk with Khrushchev, in which latter dwelt on U.S. “provocations” and made absurd charges.2 Permanent Council must establish common position on issues that would be discussed at summit. Vis-à-vis world public opinion West should say we want a well-prepared summit but that Soviets must make such a meeting possible. West must stress control of armaments, which is strong position for West but weak one for Soviets.
Spaak summed up discussion as follows. Little enthusiasm shown in discussion for summit but we are being led there by Soviets. There is pressure by Western public opinion; however much less in U.S. than in Europe. Some pressure abandon status quo and show imagination. However, we should not say unkind things about status quo, which has preserved peace and freedom in NATO area. Precarious balance better than no balance at all. Recently Soviets losing some of propaganda advantage. Clear that Khrushchev wants tete-a-tete with President Eisenhower, for internal and external prestige reasons. Khrushchev knows now he cannot have badly-prepared summit and he probably less desirous having summit at all. Spaak worried by German position. Soviet and Western positions entirely divergent. Soviets won’t discuss at summit. Can West accept such position? No, must decide how state and present German question. West’s political and legal position strong, in view 1955 Geneva decisions. Must not allow Geneva to be cancelled. At same time must avoid having Western public opinion say German question prevents progress on disarmament and European security. Spaak suggested first West should make clear what it not prepared do. We not prepared reduce our forces and upset military equilibrium. Can’t accept policy leading to withdrawal U.S., U.K. and Canadian forces from Europe. This would be fatal consequence Rapacki, Kennan Plans.3 “Disengagement” unacceptable. Cannot allow neutralization of Germany, which would also lead to withdrawal U.S. forces. Perhaps a summit meeting could be presented as a first attempt reach some agreement. Summit could be focused on disarmament. West should consider extracting some proposals from disarmament package, such as cessation testing. Spaak supported link between cessation testing and cessation of production. Noted possibility non-aggression pact not discussed by Ministers. Re participation, said Secretary’s statement [Page 343] on parity correct but perhaps some extension participation would have be accepted. But West should not accept participation neutrals, which would only encourage and seem reward neutralism. Asked Ministers to think about what should be said in communiqué. Meeting adjourned until 4 p.m.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1-CO/5–758. Secret. Repeated to Paris and pouched to the NATO capitals and Moscow.
  2. Document 142.
  3. Not found.
  4. The ideas of George F. Kennan on disengagement in Central Europe were presented in the Reith Lectures in London in late 1957. Kennan’s account of these lectures and the reactions to them are contained in his Memoirs, 1950–1963. He initially published his proposal in his book, Russia, the Atom, and the West.