214. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State0

755. Re: Berlin.

We met with Dixon, Beeley and other members UK Del and de Vaucelles of French Del with his advisers to exchange views on methods by which UN might be seized of Berlin question as well as general discussion of timing, tactics and related matters pursuant Deptels 735 and 741.1 Although mtg did not reach any firm conclusion, believe it certainly had educational effect. We plan further mtg tentatively scheduled 13 March. Following is paraphrase of what we said:
Lodge: It seems inevitable that UN would eventually be seized of Berlin matter. It was out of question to believe UN would not have to deal with it. Only question is by whom, at what time, and how. Re timing, seizure could be (1) before any change of status quo, (2) after change but before West reacts, (3) during or after West reaction. Speaking personally rather than expressing official view, since there had been no decision taken, we should go to SC before any breach of status quo including even a paper change such as a transfer of Soviet power to the GDR, and call for a standstill and four power negotiations. In order to avoid danger which would result if Soviets transferred power during Foreign Ministers’ conference, three powers should go to SC in this preventive type of action before Foreign Ministers’ conference. This is only way avoid situation where Soviets could change status quo and go to UN, thereby gaining initiative, putting UN’s well-known pro-status quo feelings on Soviet side, and thus restraining three power reaction. Whatever we do here must be coordinated carefully with our over-all strategy.
Dixon: My analysis leads to similar conclusion that subject almost bound come to UN. But present need is to relate various possible UN actions to general policy on over-all problem. We do not yet know what our over-all policy is going to be. UK Del saw two different kinds of action (1) first, diplomatic use of UN, designed support our case and expose illegalities of Soviet proposals, for example, by calling for ICJ consideration or ICJ advisory opinion, or by using SYG in some manner. Another example of diplomatic use would be summit meeting under SC aegis; however, ChiComs would probably again prevent Khrushchev’s [Page 463] attendance as was case last fall. (2) Other use of UN would be to put to Soviets substantive proposals for use of UN machinery such as, for example, (a) some form of UN force (for which recruitment would be admittedly difficult), (b) movement UN headquarters or UN Geneva offices to Berlin or West Berlin (as Dixon understood Spaak favored) or (c) some form of UN commission. (UKDel thinking in terms of UN commission which would have some operation as between East and West Berlin sectors and along access routes and which would supplement but not supplant West forces in Berlin. Dixon mentioned UN’s role in checking convoys to and from Mt. Scopus. He felt this approach had real merit and deserves further study.) Proposing use of UN machinery in such fashion should precede “diplomatic” use of UN. Our case in SC would be on more firm grounds if substantive proposal along lines of second course had been proposed to Soviets and rejected by them. Our position would be strongest in SC if Soviets had previously rejected substantive proposal along these lines and if Soviets had physically obstructed our access to Berlin. Fear we would be on weak grounds if we went to SC before obstruction had taken place since Soviets could argue only threat to peace stemmed from our intention to use force. If we reacted in SC before physical interference by Soviets, this act by itself might precipitate physical interference even if this were not original Soviet intention.
De Vaucelles: GOF is primarily concerned that UN not be allowed to paralyze our ability to respond to change of status quo. GOF favors awaiting physical interference, then reacting with whatever force necessary and simply informing SC simultaneously of action taken in self-defense per Article 51. GOF felt we must not be limited in four power negotiations to Berlin only, but on other hand UN could only be concerned with Berlin and not larger problems of Germany or peace treaty. Berlin would be only question on SC agenda. Therefore GOF did not favor setting UN machinery in motion in any way until after Soviets obstructed and West reacted. In any case we should avoid action in SC which permitted Soviets to limit further negotiations to Berlin only.
After more argument by Lodge all finally agreed worst timing for submission by three powers to SC would be after physical interference but before Western reaction.
Re Soviet tactics and arguments. British said Soviets would tend to favor consideration in GA, not SC, since GA hard to control and more tempted by its nature to work for solutions through compromise in which West would lose. We would find it difficult to demonstrate that mere transfer of rights to GDR or our refusal to permit GDR stamp our documents is menace to peace; Soviets have easy reply that only threat lies in our assertion we need use force. In GA Soviets would be on firm grounds in arguing that only threat to peace was presence our forces in [Page 464] Berlin and they would probably ask GA to bring about withdrawal those forces.
But, in spite of the above talk about GA, when Lodge asked specifically what UK thought Soviets would be most likely to do Beeley said that, having heard U.S. argument, he believed most likely Soviet plan would be move into SC after they had altered status quo so as to seize initiative and prevent us from reacting. He agreed with Lodge that since this would be most dangerous move from our viewpoint, it would be most likely Soviet move.
UKDel noted inscription of Berlin item during earlier SC consideration had been opposed by Soviets on basis Article 107.2
As to Soviet objectives Dixon said Macmillan was impressed by Khrushchev’s desire to solidify his position in Eastern Europe and by his pathological fear of espionage from West Berlin (as well as from our disarmament inspection schemes). Although Khrushchev interested in meeting President Eisenhower, Macmillan reported that Khrushchev did not put too much stress on summit meeting. Impression resulting was that Khrushchev, while bargaining for more, was willing to settle for our acceptance of status quo plus some greater recognition of GDR and would do this even in four power negotiations at FonMins level.
Although agreed would be advantageous if we seized SC before any change in status quo, this presented many dangers if done despite Soviet objections. One hypothetical possibility discussed was that of using summit as “bait” in order bring about Soviet cooperation or, at least, noninterference; SC would be called upon to ask for standstill in order bring about summit meeting preceded by Foreign Ministers’ conference. We made clear U.S. did not favor summit meeting.
Re initiatives other than by three powers, it was generally agreed Berlin is so much a four power responsibility that three powers could not afford let anyone else take initiative. (Earlier, however, UKDel indicated vague possibility of using SYG in some manner.)
Dixon asked how East and West Germans might be associated with any SC action. De Vaucelles pointed out Soviets recognize both and could accept presence of both at SC. He asked if we could. We agreed this matter deserves study.
Dixon also noted frequent local inquiries and said at some stage we must talk to Germans, plus NATO members, plus other SC members, as well as press. It was agreed for time being we would say nothing.
Although inconclusive, group felt exchange of views useful and should be resumed after capitals had chance react to various views set forth.
While leaving meeting Dixon said to Lodge: “you out-argued us.”
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/3–1259. Secret; Priority; Limited Distribution.
  2. See Document 210 and footnote 1 thereto.
  3. In 1948 the Soviet Union had rejected the proposal of taking the Berlin question to the Security Council; see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. II, p. 1210.