176. Editorial Note

Drafting a reply to the Soviet note of January 10 (see Document 124) began at the end of January when first a French and then a U.S. draft reply were circulated in Washington. (Telegram 2683 to Paris, January 28, and telegram 6966 to London, February 1; Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/1–2859 and 2–159) On February 3 representatives from the British and French Embassies met with State Department officials to begin work on combining these drafts. The following day, with the addition of West German representatives, an ad hoc four-power working group began formal consideration of the Western reply. The working group produced an agreed text on February 5 that was submitted to the four governments for comment. Further discussions resulted in final agreement on the text by February 10, after which it was transmitted to the North Atlantic Council for information and consideration. The U.S. Representative on the Council reported on the discussions of the draft reply in Poltos 2279 and 3313 from Paris, February 11 and 13 (ibid., 762.00/2–1159 and 2–1359) and noted that full approval had been given by the NATO members to the text.

The note, which briefly reviewed the evolution of the Berlin crisis and proposed a four-power Foreign Ministers meeting to discuss all aspects of the German problem, was delivered to the Soviet Foreign Ministry on February 16. For text of the United States reply, see Department of State Bulletin, March 9, 1959, page 333; for text of the British reply, see Cmd. 670, page 19, for text of the German reply, see Moskau Bonn, pages [Page 372] 515–516; for text of the French reply, see La Documentation Française, Articles et Documents, No. 767, February 24, 1959.

On February 13, having completed its work on the draft reply, the working group began consideration of substantive questions that might be raised at a Foreign Ministers meeting. The discussions led to the drafting of a nine-page questionnaire on these topics. (Airgram G–137 to Paris, February 16; Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/2–1659) The working group recessed on February 16, after deciding to resume deliberations in Paris in March. Documentation on the meetings of working group is ibid., 762.00.