251. Memorandum of Conversation0




  • Minutes of Afternoon Session of Quadripartite Foreign Ministers Meeting of April 1, 1959


  • US
    • The Acting Secretary
    • Mr. Murphy
    • Mr. Reinhardt
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Ambassador Burgess
    • Ambassador Bruce
    • Mr. Berding
    • Mr. Irwin
    • Mr. Knight
    • Mr. Hillenbrand
    • Mr. Timmons
    • Mr. McFarland
  • France
    • Maurice Couve de Murville
    • Ambassador Alphand
    • Charles Lucet
    • Jean Laloy
    • Pierre Baraduc
    • Jacques de Beaumarchais
    • Jean-Claude Winckler
  • Federal Republic
    • Heinrich von Brentano
    • Albert van Scherpenberg
    • Georg Duckwitz
    • Georg Count Baudissin
    • Hans-Juergen Dietrich
    • Gunter von Hase
    • Hermann Kustrer
    • Ambassador Grewe
    • Franz Krapf
    • Rolf Pauls
  • UK
    • Selwyn Lloyd
    • Ambassador Caccia
    • Sir Frank Roberts
    • Lord Hood
    • Peter Hope
    • Anthony Rumbold
    • Patrick Hancock
    • Denis Laskey
    • John Drinkall
    • Donald Logan
[Page 571]

The afternoon session of the April 1 four Foreign Ministers meeting (U.S., U.K., France and the Federal Republic of Germany) was taken up almost entirely with discussion of 4 papers: The session opened with a renewed injunction regarding security and not revealing to the press anything which transpired in the meeting. There was some consternation evident over a detailed article in the afternoon Washington Star under the headline “Ministers Get Bonn Warning” (not to take too soft a line with the Soviets).

The four papers discussed were:1

a joint communiqué;
an agreed minute, which contains formal instructions to the Working Group for its next meeting;
a report to the NAC on the Western position on German Reunification, European Security and Berlin;
a report to the NAC on Contingency Planning.

The communiqué was largely non-substantive in nature. It announced that the Working Group will reconvene in London April 13, have a report ready by April 25 for consideration by the next four Foreign Ministers meeting in Paris April 29.

There were several interesting substantive exchanges on the language of the Minute, particularly involving British views on European security and the linking of security to German reunification. The British proposed that the group consider measures in the field of security without this link. They saw the possibility of having to consider reunification in connection with Berlin, for example, or as a completely separate issue. Lloyd stressed that he was speaking only of very limited European security measures and not of disengagement.

The French Foreign Minister announced that he had had second thoughts on the whole concept of a special security area. He felt this smacked too much of the Rapacki Plan.2 Couve stated he was not rejecting a special area altogether but was notifying the group that he had not yet made up his mind on the whole concept.

The French, joined by the Germans and the US, opposed the British effort to separate out European security so that it could be considered by itself. Compromise language was agreed to which maintained the link between reunification of Germany and European security.

The Germans objected to the paragraph of the Minute (which the French had proposed) suggesting that the Working Group study the [Page 572] possible application of the limitations of the protocols to the Brussels Treaty to a reunified Germany. It was agreed to drop the paragraph. The German position appeared based on the fear that this provision would become public knowledge and that it would have an unfortunate effect (mostly on German public opinion). The Germans noted that they did not object to consideration of this subject in the Working Group but did not want it mentioned in the Minute.

Couve declared that the link between the discussion of general disarmament and German reunification made the Western package proposals less negotiable. The subjects could be discussed simultaneously or in parallel but he did not think the two should be linked. The Acting Secretary pointed out that the link was based partly on the fact that if the Soviets agreed to the principle of reunification it would make possible much more rapid progress toward general disarmament. The French suggested language to remove the link between disarmament and reunification.

The question whether to submit a draft peace treaty at the May 11 Foreign Ministers meeting or only the principles governing a peace treaty was discussed. It was agreed the Working Group should try, if practicable, to draft a peace treaty. The principles for a draft treaty would be tabled. The tabling of a draft treaty was a matter for further consideration.

The next document discussed was the Report to the NAC on the Western position. The principal problems discussed were how much to tell NATO and the specific language they would use. The Report to NATO follows a standard pattern. It goes into more detail on German reunification and European security than has been given to NATO before. It adds nothing new on Berlin. The discussion of the Report was somewhat repetitious in order to bring it into harmony with the language of the Agreed Minute. It was agreed that proposals on the method of reunification of Germany should be part of the Western package. Lloyd suggested language to indicate flexibility whereby Stage I of the reunification plan might be put forward alone if the Soviets rejected the rest of the plan. This was opposed by all three other Ministers. The Acting Secretary declared the several stages went together as a unit.

Lloyd agreed that we should put the package forward as our first position. He only wanted to know what we would do if, as he felt likely, the Russians rejected the package. Couve objected to giving NATO any fall-back positions to consider at this time, principally because of the danger of leaks. He did not exclude considering possible fall-back positions later, principally in return for concessions on Berlin. The Germans objected strongly to anything limited to Stage I which did not contain a timetable setting forth when the next Stage was to take effect.

[Page 573]

On the European security section of the Report to NATO there was considerable discussion of the language, as was also true for the Minute. The French repeated their previous objections to the special security area; the Germans objected to having language on the non-transfer of the custody of nuclear weapons. There was some feeling among the other delegations that there might be some confusion in the minds of the Germans as to the actual effects of this provision. The section in the Report to NATO on the draft German Peace Treaty was changed to make it conform to the Minute.

The section on Berlin was extremely skimpy. The French pointed out that NATO already received more from the Working Group at its last session in Paris than the Report gave them. Couve read the three points given NATO by the Working Group: (1) that a quadripartite solution on Berlin was preferable to a UN solution; (2) any solution must allow the West to retain forces in Berlin and maintain access; (3) our position in Berlin must continue to be based upon our right of conquest. The British had trouble with both 1 and 3. They could see the possibility that a UN solution might be necessary. They thought the passages about our rights of conquest were too flat a statement and foresaw some possibility of a contractual arrangement. Lloyd pointed out that the Working Group Report to NATO had not been a Governmental statement. Compromise language was worked out to cover this point.

The Report to the NAC on Contingency Planning was accepted with only one minor change.

The Ministers further developed an agreed formula on how and at what stage Italy would be invited to participate as an observer or as a full member in the Foreign Ministers meeting of May 11 or a subsequent Summit meeting. It was agreed that the information would be conveyed to Italian Foreign Minister Pella orally.3

The method of presenting the reports to the NAC on Thursday was discussed and agreed to. Foreign Minister Lloyd will present the report on the Western position and Couve de Murville will report on Contingency Planning.

The meeting ended at 5:50 p.m.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1227. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by McFarland and approved by Herter on April 15. A summary of the conversation was transmitted to Bonn in telegram 2310, April 2. (Ibid., Central Files, 396.1–WA/4–259)
  2. U.S. drafts of these four papers, April 1, are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1225. For text of the communiqué as released on April 1, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1959, pp. 639–640; copies of the agreed minute and the two reports to the North Atlantic Council are in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1236.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 43.
  4. Herter briefed Foreign Minister Pella at 9 a.m. on April 2; a summary of their conversation was transmitted to Rome in telegram 3353, April 2. (Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/4–259)