213. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State0

4708. Paris for Embassy, USRO and Thurston. According FonOff official Macmillan talks with Debre and de Gaulle concentrated on Germany and Berlin but there was also some discussion of Africa and very briefly of free trade area. Prime Minister raised question French Mediterranean fleet and expressed objections “in general terms” to French action.

Lloyd at first meeting gave Debre summary Macmillan’s and his talks in Moscow. Macmillan added that three points emerged from these talks: 1) Khrushchev would be satisfied with de facto rather than de jure recognition of the DDR, 2) Soviets willing for West Germany remain in NATO for present and 3) Khrushchev interested in a thinning out of forces in Europe. Macmillan said question for West was how to play hand. If decision were to push Berlin issue to point of war then various military measures such as mobilization should be undertaken. Macmillan stressed importance of avoiding bluff from which we would subsequently have to back down. Debre replied that he agreed West must consider possibility of military catastrophe over Berlin but should try to avoid it. Western unity essential. While West might accept no present prospect German reunification, essential maintain position in Berlin. Debre showed no enthusiasm for disengagement or limitation of arms.

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Couve de Murville gave summary of de Gaulle talks with Adenauer. De Gaulle found Adenauer realistic on reunification and prepared concentrate on European security. Germans reluctant to look at limited arms zones or disengagement because of possible implications for continued maintenance Western forces in Germany. Adenauer had aired views on general disarmament.

Macmillan said he had not discussed demilitarized zone or zone of special arms limitations with Russians and they had not for their part suggested neutralized or denuclearized Germany.

Macmillan said four possibilities: 1) firm actions as well as words by West with respect Berlin, 2) Russians might not climb down and we would then have war, 3) we might have compromise (no indication in record of conversation that nature “compromise” spelled out), 4) we could conduct bluff which would be disastrous our interests. Debre replied that we must decide what we can accept on Berlin and then hold firm. He suggested quadripartite consideration Berlin and tripartite study German question.

Macmillan said Soviets publicly committed to negotiations and since it was clear negotiations should be with Khrushchev this meant a summit meeting. West might propose summit end of July or early August with Foreign Ministers’ meeting to prepare for summit.

In discussion March 10 between Couve and Lloyd former said he was opposed to replacing Western forces with UN forces in Berlin since this merely variant Soviet free city proposal. With respect zone of limitation of forces Lloyd said such arrangement must not 1) disturb military balance, 2) result in break up of NATO or 3) in withdrawal US forces from Europe. Subject to these considerations UK was prepared to look at plans for zone of limitation of forces. He added however that Rapacki Plan1 or neutralization of Germany not acceptable. Lloyd said might be some advantage in setting up zone with provision for inspection in area of Germany east of Rhine with corresponding area east of DDR frontier but matter would have to be discussed with Germans. Lloyd said such scheme should be part of package deal including settlement of Berlin but not providing for German reunification. Macmillan in conversation with Debre and de Gaulle stressed control features as most important aspect zone of limitations. He also thought zone might constitute start toward disarmament and useful anti-surprise attack measure.

In meeting with Macmillan March 10 de Gaulle took firm line on Berlin saying we must insist on our right of passage and Khrushchev would back down since he doesn’t want war. Macmillan agreed but said negotiations must come first. He again stressed that if we are going to [Page 461] threaten we must take supporting actions such as for example mobilization. De Gaulle said that since France had no atomic weapons its resources in showdown limited and that it would be mainly matter for United States. De Gaulle agreed on need for summit but doubtful on proposing date for it. He remarked that he felt no sense of urgency in arranging summit talks but perhaps British had internal political reasons for wishing early summit. Macmillan replied that proposing early summit meeting might dissuade Russians from taking precipitate action. De Gaulle also willing have examination, without commitment, of new arrangements for Berlin but made it clear we should meanwhile continue maintain legal basis our presence Berlin. Macmillan said we should encourage some “cooperation” between two Germanies since reunification through free elections not possible at moment. De Gaulle agreed on desirability increased contacts between Federal Republic and DDR but said Adenauer afraid of expanding Communist influence in Federal Republic. De Gaulle said he had told Adenauer firmly that new frontiers a fact which would have to be accepted and Adenauer had agreed not only with respect Oder Neisse but also Czech frontier.

Debre reverting to Berlin said alternatives were to 1) stand on existing rights or 2) negotiate new status. Macmillan said he favored second alternative since this would provide opportunity strengthen our legal position in city. Couve expressed doubts about value new agreement with Soviets and opposed any UN solution which would open way to UN interference Western rights Berlin.

De Gaulle thought blockade Berlin unlikely but if it occurred West should not give in. Macmillan and de Gaulle agreed that essential question in event of hand over by Russians to DDR was whether route blocked rather than who stamped what.2

Finally Macmillan asked de Gaulle what his attitude was toward NATO. De Gaulle replied that he stood by Alliance, but it should be reorganized with accent on cooperation rather than integration.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.4151/3–1259. Secret. Transmitted in two sections and repeated to Paris, Bonn, Berlin, and Moscow. For another account of Macmillan’s visit to Paris, March 9–10, see Macmillan, Riding the Storm, pp. 636–638.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 43.
  3. On March 12 the Department of State cabled Paris, London, Bonn, Berlin, and Moscow that Alphand had also given a brief rundown on Macmillan’s visit to Paris. The visit had served to dispel fears about what Macmillan had agreed to in Moscow, but Alphand noted that differences remained on the questions of Berlin and reunification of Germany. (Telegram 3348 to Paris; Department of State, Central Files, 033.4151/3–1259)