316. Memorandum of Conversation0




  • Dr. H. von Brentano, German Foreign Minister
  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Bruce
  • Mr. W. R. Tyler


  • Peace Treaty Principles; Security Zones; Meetings with Soviets
[Page 727]

The Foreign Minister said he wished first of all to raise two questions:


He said he expected that the Secretary had been informed that the subject of the draft Principles of a Peace Treaty1 had been raised by journalists in the press, but that he had not mentioned it to them. However, the press was interested in this question, and as he was going to be seeing other journalists in the course of the day he would like to know what he should say in answer to the question whether the West intended to table these Principles.

The Secretary said he could only reply personally, but that he had no enthusiasm for raising this matter at this time. To do so was likely to involve us in an article by article discussion with the Soviets who would try to extract an agreed draft, and then conclude a separate Treaty with the GDR, on the grounds that it was an approved text. The Secretary commented that today’s New York Times had published the Principles of a Peace Treaty. The Foreign Minister said he had also heard this, and had been told that the leak had occurred in Paris. The Secretary went on to say that before discussing a Peace Treaty at all, we should know whether such a Treaty would apply to a reunited Germany or not.

The Foreign Minister agreed and said that the Soviets should fulfill the preliminary condition of agreeing to the reunification of Germany before the Principles of a Peace Treaty were discussed with them.

The Foreign Minister said he wished to raise a second point, which was giving him some concern: he had been informed that a Western Four Power working party had yesterday discussed the implementation of paragraphs 16, 17 and 25 of the Western Peace Plan, which deal with the subject of security zones. He understood that the working party had proposed that these zones should be discussed internally among the Four, and be defined. He personally had no particular objection to the discussion of paragraphs 16 and 17, but he had serious reservations about the discussion of paragraph 25 which was to be implemented under Stage 3. He was afraid that discussion now of this paragraph would lead in the direction of discussing some variant of the Rapacki Plan. The Secretary said he was not informed about what the working party had discussed, but that there was no authority for lifting the subject of security zones out of the rest of the Plan. Such zones should only be discussed within the context of the Western proposals. He added that he had been somewhat worried about the British attitude with regard to this subject, and that the Soviets would certainly like to lift it out of the Plan and discuss it separately. The Secretary proposed, and the Foreign Minister agreed, that this matter should be discussed on Thursday by [Page 728] the Four Western Foreign Ministers. The Foreign Minister added that he was afraid of leaks, if the subject were discussed even internally, and that this would provoke the Russians to raising the issue. [6–1/2 lines of source text not declassified] it was essential to make it clear beyond any doubt that security zones would not be discussed outside the framework of the Western Peace Plan.

The Secretary said there were only two subjects which might possibly be discussed separately:

A modus vivendi on Berlin;
The resumption of talks on general disarmament in an appropriate form.

The Foreign Minister said he agreed with the Secretary.

The Secretary asked the Foreign Minister whether the Federal Government would be interested in the possibility of setting up the Mixed German Committee independently of the acceptance by the Soviets of the Western Package. The Foreign Minister reacted sharply against this idea. He said he wished to make it quite clear that he had agreed to the Mixed German Committee only if the conditions of basic agreement by the Soviets to discuss German reunification had been met. If the Soviets insisted on the maintenance of the two German regimes, it would be highly dangerous to agree to the formation of the Committee, and the Soviets would do everything possible to confer on it functions and recognition which would serve the purposes of their policy.

He went on to say that he was leaving for Bonn on Saturday2 to talk things over with the Chancellor and with members of his party and, therefore, he had felt it would be useful to have this exchange of views with the Secretary. The conference was being followed very carefully in Bonn and not without some apprehension.

The Foreign Minister said that in his last statement, Gromyko had attacked the Federal Government, and the persons of the Chancellor and of Defense Minister Strauss very sharply. The purpose of this was clear: to brand the Federal Republic as a disturber of the peace. He had it in mind to instruct Ambassador Grewe to state clearly at one of the next sessions, that the Delegation of the Federal Republic was participating in the conference as Advisers, that it was prepared to cooperate but that this was being made difficult because of these intemperate attacks. He added that he would like to know the Secretary’s feelings as to whether this would be a good thing to do, as otherwise he would not wish to press the matter.

The Secretary questioned whether this would not be grist to Gromyko’s mill. If Gromyko felt that he had struck a sensitive nerve by [Page 729] these attacks, would he not be likely to exploit this further and to increase them? Ambassador Bruce suggested that the Four Western Foreign Ministers might discuss this point, and that it would perhaps be appropriate for one of the other Western Foreign Ministers to make a rebuttal and term such attacks distasteful. It was agreed that the Western Foreign Ministers should discuss the matter on Thursday.

The Foreign Minister said he had last week called on Gromyko, who had not yet responded to his visit. If he should not hear from Gromyko this week, he thought he might go to see him again next week, after his return to Germany, and wanted to know whether the Secretary had any objections to his so doing. He said that it would not be difficult for him to do so since the Federal Republic has official relations with the Soviet Union. Gromyko did not like his visits, and the GDR hates them, which was a good reason for their taking place. The Secretary said he had no objection whatever. Ambassador Bruce commented that Gromyko might pull the trick of having Bolz present when von Brentano arrived. The Foreign Minister said that in this case, he would tell Gromyko that there had obviously been a mistake since he was already busy, and he would ask for another appointment on the following day.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1338. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Tyler and approved by Herter on May 21. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.
  2. See Document 270.
  3. May 23.