312. Delegation Record of Meeting0



  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Merchant
  • Ambassador Thompson
  • Ambassador Bruce
  • Mr. Becker
  • Mr. Berding
  • Mr. Irwin
  • Mr. Reinhardt
  • Mr. Smith
  • Mr. Sullivan
  • Mr. Wilcox
  • Mr. Krebs

Conference Tactics1

1. Mr. Merchant said that the first summary of the Verbatims prepared under Mr. Becker’s direction appeared today and that it will be distributed daily to the other three Western delegations. He noted that Mr. Smith had prepared a time-table for the next three-week phase of the conference.2 As far as today’s meeting was concerned, Mr. Merchant said that Couve, Gromyko and Lloyd have statements which they will read. Mr. Merchant also reported that last night Sir Anthony Rumbold indicated to him that the British are uneasy about the aura of suspicion that surrounds them.3 Rumbold said that he agreed completely with Couve that the West should take no initiative in seeking restricted meetings with the Soviets.4 The Secretary commented that he was not favorably disposed toward restricted meetings of the six delegations but that a restricted meeting with the four principals would be satisfactory to him. The Secretary indicated that at this time we should adopt a reticent attitude about restricted sessions.

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Von Brentano Interview with Die Welt

2. Ambassador Thompson and Mr. Merchant called attention to the interview von Brentano gave to Die Welt as reported today in the Journal de Geneve. In this interview von Brentano is alleged to have said that if the Soviets accept the Western Plan the Federal Republic would talk with the GDR. He was also quoted as saying that later in the week the West would present principles to govern a peace treaty with Germany. The Secretary asked Ambassador Bruce to see von Brentano and ask him to clarify the matter. (Ambassador Bruce did so later in the day, and a record of his conversation is contained in MC No. 23.)5

Contingency Planning for Berlin

3. Mr. Wilcox read the text of a telegram (Secto 71)6 to the Department he had drafted on Berlin Contingency Planning. The Secretary indicated his concurrence. The Secretary added that he thought it important to be prepared on exactly how and when we might take the Berlin question to the Security Council and what we would say at that time.

Briefing on Geneva Meeting for President’s Press Conference

4. Mr. Berding said that we are preparing answers to several questions about the Geneva Conference for possible briefing of the President for his press conference tomorrow.

Press Reaction to Conference

5. Mr. Berding thought that this week the press may concentrate on those elements of our plan which Gromyko has indicated might be the subject of individual agreements.

Secretary McElroy

6. Mr. Berding asked for guidance on Secretary McElroy’s joining the delegation tomorrow. The Secretary thought we should say that McElroy had been originally selected by the President to go to Geneva and had planned to come at the same time as the rest of the delegation. However, the death of Deputy Secretary Quarles had delayed McElroy. Now that conditions permitted McElroy to be absent from Washington, he planned to join the delegation. The Secretary said we should stress that McElroy’s coming to Geneva at this time had no particular significance.

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Press Guidance

7. Mr. Reinhardt suggested that we might take the following line with the press: (1) This week we will spell out to the Russians the elements of the Western Peace Plan in order to make sure they fully understand it; and (2) we will offer more comprehensive criticism of the Soviet proposals.

Discussion of Separate Points in Western Plan

8. The Secretary inquired whether we had identified the points that Gromyko is expected to pick out of our Plan for separate discussion. Mr. Becker said that he would have a paper for the Secretary on this today. Mr. Merchant observed that we might take the same line as Mr. Lloyd, namely that a distinction should be drawn between the possibility of discussing the particular items separately and the question of negotiating or applying them individually.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1352. Secret. Drafted by James. The meeting was held in Conference Room 209 at the Consulate General Annex.
  2. At a meeting at 9 a.m., Bruce discussed tactics with Smith, Becker, Reinhardt, Merchant, and Thompson, all of whom thought the West could not extract a standstill agreement on Berlin from Gromyko in exchange for a summit conference, since if the Soviet Union was asked, it would demand concessions on high altitude flights and arming the Bundeswehr. Bruce did not agree. (Ibid., Bruce Diaries: Lot 64 D 327)
  3. Not found.
  4. A memorandum of this conversation, US/MC/21, is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1338.
  5. Couve de Murville made this point to Herter following the sixth session of the Foreign Ministers on May 18. (Secto 66 from Geneva, May 18 at 8 p.m.; ibid., Central Files, 396.1–GE/5–1859)
  6. Dated May 19. In both this memorandum and in his diary Bruce recorded Brentano’s categorical statement that the account printed in Die Welt was untrue. (Ibid., Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1352 and ibid., Bruce Diaries: Lot 64 D 327)
  7. Secto 71, May 18, reported that the delegation had never believed discussion of Berlin at the United Nations would be confined to lobbying for support as opposed to formal consideration. (Ibid., Central Files, 396.1–GE/5–1859)