309. Memorandum of Conversation0




  • United States
    • The Secretary of State
    • Mr. Reinhardt
    • Mr. Berding
    • Mr. Merchant
  • United Kingdom
    • Foreign Secretary Lloyd
    • Sir Anthony Rumbold
    • Mr. Laskey
  • Germany
    • Foreign Minister von Brentano
    • Ambassador Grewe
    • Mr. Duckwitz
  • France
    • Foreign Minister Couve de Murville
    • Mr. Lucet
    • Mr. de Beaumarchais
    • Mr. Baraduc
    • Mr. Laloy


  • Lloyd’s Report of May 18 Talk with Gromyko and General Discussion of Tactics

This meeting opened with Mr. Lloyd giving a report on his meeting earlier in the morning with Mr. Gromyko. Mr. Gromyko came to Mr. Lloyd’s villa at his own request, representing it as a return of Mr. Lloyd’s courtesy call on him eight days earlier.1 At the outset Mr. Gromyko said that he could see three solutions for Berlin: (a) all Western troops leave and West Berlin becomes a free city, (b) Soviet troops join the Western forces in West Berlin, or (c) neutral troops replace Western troops in West Berlin. Mr. Gromyko said that he assumed our proposal for Berlin was merely a tactical opening position. Mr. Lloyd replied that he assumed this was an accurate description of Mr. Gromyko’s three proposals. He then asked Gromyko what really troubled the Soviets about West Berlin. Gromyko replied that the situation was such that it might lead to incidents. Mr. Lloyd rejoined that the arrangements had operated tolerably for the past ten years and there had been no incidents.

Gromyko then told Mr. Lloyd that he was prepared to listen but not to talk about German reunification. He made critical remarks concerning [Page 715] the Western package plan2 and noted that the Soviet peace treaty3 if desired could be amended to permit the two German states to remain for an interim period in their present alliance systems.

Mr. Lloyd said that he failed to understand Gromyko’s objection to our package proposal since the Soviet proposals were likewise a package containing exactly the same four elements. There was in it a peace treaty, certain of whose articles constituted security arrangements. There was a provision for reunification of Germany by the efforts of the two German states or some sort of confederation, and finally there was an interim solution for Berlin. Mr. Gromyko had no rejoinder to Mr. Lloyd’s point.

Gromyko said that he planned to speak today at length and that Bolz would also speak. He then asked how Mr. Lloyd foresaw the conference developing. Gromyko said that he thought after two or three more days of formal presentations and rebuttals this phase of the conference would be ended. Mr. Lloyd asked might it not then be well to move into private meetings? Gromyko apparently was noncommittal.

At this point Couve de Murville said that he thought it was a mistake to show any apparent anxiety or interest in private meetings. After all the West, even if it is not perfectly satisfied with the existing situation in Europe, at least is reconciled to it. It is the Soviets who are seeking to upset the status quo. Under these circumstances it should be left to the Russians to take any initiative or make any counter proposals. After all if the conference ends in a deadlock, that reflects the existing situation and we could all go home.

Mr. Lloyd said that he could agree with most of what Couve had said but he thought we must steer a middle course.

The Secretary said that we must remember that Khrushchev from the outset has been saying that the Foreign Ministers can do nothing, with the implication that a Summit meeting could do everything. He said that he felt that Gromyko should know that if no progress is made in the Foreign Ministers meeting, then there will be no Summit conference. There was general agreement expressed with this statement.

The meeting then turned to a discussion of tactics for the afternoon’s session on which agreement was reached.

In closing the Secretary said that he was expecting Mr. McElroy to be arriving in the next two days or so. He said that he had been an original member of the Delegation but had been detained in Washington by reason of Mr. Quarles’ sudden death.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1338. Secret. Drafted by Merchant and approved by Herter. The meeting was held in the U.S. Delegation Office.
  2. See Document 291.
  3. See footnote 1, Document 295.
  4. See footnote 3, Document 305.
  5. Quarles died on May 8.