351. Delegation Record of Meeting0


Tactical Matters

1. Mr. Merchant reported that he had briefed Ambassador Grewe1 last night on yesterday’s private meeting. He said he had left no documents with Grewe although he had promised to give him a copy of the protocol2 that Gromyko introduced at yesterday’s private meeting. Mr. Merchant said he was disturbed by press leaks about the private sessions. Mr. Berding thought that the West Germans may have disclosed to the press what the Secretary intended to say yesterday about Communist activities in East Berlin.

Mr. Merchant continued that as far as the plenary today was concerned, the “so-called Dr. Bolz” and Ambassador Grewe would speak. Grewe has what Mr. Merchant described as a good speech rounding up conference developments. The Secretary noted a protocol problem concerning the chairmanship. He said that Gromyko wants to be in the chair today even though a private session was held at his residence yesterday. Mr. Merchant said he thought the chairmanship of the plenary sessions should rotate solely on the basis of prior plenary sessions without regard to private meetings. The Secretary indicated agreement.

Possible Limitation on Troops in Berlin

2. Ambassador Thompson called attention to a Berlin telegram (to Geneva 54)3 containing a memorandum by General Hamlett concerning the dangers to free access inherent in any limitation on troop strength in Berlin. The Secretary thought General Hamlett’s point was well taken and that any limitation on Western troop strength might make possible undesirable Soviet inspection activities. Mr. Smith thought the Soviets would wish to avoid establishing a precedent in Berlin which might work against them at some future time in respect to general [Page 814] disarmament arrangements. Ambassador Thompson said that the Soviets do not want the West to have rights in East Berlin; therefore, if they pursue the matter and insist on limitations in West Berlin we must insist on a ceiling for forces in East Berlin. Mr. Gufler pointed out, however, that the Soviets could withdraw a few miles into East Germany and then willingly submit to inspection in East Berlin.

Terminology of Meetings

3. Mr. Boerner reported that last night the Soviet briefing officer had stated that the private meetings of the Big Four were “unofficial” meetings designed to speed up the work of the conference, adding that the official meetings are those attended by the six delegations at the Palais. The Secretary noted that we are not using the term “restricted” meetings which implied meeting with the two German adviser delegations and that there are in our view two types of meetings; i.e. the plenary, and “informal” or “private” sessions.

Assessment of Berlin Situation

4. At the invitation of the Secretary, Mr. Gufler gave an assessment of the current situation in Berlin. Berlin morale, he said, is “amazingly good.” He noted that after Gromyko’s attack Saturday on RIAS, the morale of RIAS employees had improved and many had informed the Director that they would not resign at this time to take other jobs as they had planned. The attitude of the city in general is good. Underneath there is a certain nervousness, however; the trust the Berliners show in the U.S. is almost embarrassing. Berliners, Mr. Gufler continued, have three paramount concerns; (1) that if Berlin be made a free city, it not have its own currency but remain tied monetarily to West Germany; (2) that the U.S. not agree to any limitation on troop strength but retain their sovereign right to decide what troop strength to keep in Berlin; and (3) that we not give up RIAS or agree to any limitations on propaganda activities. Berliners feel that to do so would be the beginning of the curtailment of their right of free speech. Mr. Gufler continued that Berliners are apprehensive lest agreements be reached which balance out rights in East and West Berlin; their feeling is that they would not come out even since they are free and East Berlin is not. In response to an inquiry by the Secretary, Mr. Gufler said that there has been improvement economically this year over last year due largely to aid furnished by the West German Government and by large West German concerns to their Berlin subsidiaries.

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Activities of Working Group

5. Mr. Hillenbrand said that the working group met yesterday and discussed formulae concerning access to Berlin.4 He said that there was a consensus that it was premature to try to reach agreement on specific language. It was agreed that each delegation would refine its own language and have it ready for such time as the matter might be under discussion by the Foreign Ministers.

President’s Press Conference

6. Mr. Berding noted that the President would be holding a press conference tomorrow and said that he planned to formulate a series of questions and farm them out among the U.S. delegation for preparation of answers.5 The Secretary interjected that he thought the President could play a very important role in determining the course of the conference by what he said tomorrow and he thought that we should frame our comments to the White House as recommendations rather than as suggestions.

Press Backgrounder by Secretary

7. The Secretary agreed with Mr. Berding that it might be wise to schedule his backgrounder for American correspondents for Thursday rather than tomorrow in the light of the President’s press conference and a background news conference that Selwyn Lloyd intends to give on Wednesday.6

Possible Press Briefing on Communist Activities in East Berlin

8. Mr. Berding suggested that in view of the intense press interest in our presentation on Communist intelligence activities in East Berlin, it might be desirable to give the press on a background basis a sanitized version of our data on this subject. The Secretary thought that this might [Page 816] be a good idea since he said he did not intend to use publicly this material unless the Soviets return to the charge that Western activities in West Berlin were a danger to East Berlin. Ambassador Thompson, supported by Mr. Merchant, thought it would not be desirable to do this. He thought we ran the danger of being accused of leaking information about the private sessions.

[Here follows paragraph 9 on an unrelated subject.]

London Times’ Article on Lloyd

10. Mr. Reinhardt said he had learned from British sources that yesterday’s London Times’ article about Lloyd’s possible resignation had been stimulated by Duncan Sandys.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1364. Secret. The meeting was held in Conference Room 209 of the Consulate General Annex.
  2. No further record of this briefing has been found.
  3. Document 349.
  4. Dated June 1, it transmitted General Hamlett’s views on the impact of limiting the number of Allied troops in West Berlin. After noting that no matter how many troops were in the city, Berlin was militarily indefensible, Hamlett stressed that the Soviet interest was only a “political gimmick” to permit them further control on access to the city. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/6–159)
  5. Documentation on the working group, which had been meeting in Bonn to discuss specifics of the agreed tripartite contingency plan (see Document 255), is in Department of State, Central File 762.00.
  6. The questions and suggested answers were transmitted in Secto 164 from Geneva, June 2 at 9 p.m. (Ibid., 396.1–GE/6–259)
  7. The transcript of Secretary Herter’s backgrounder for U.S. correspondents at 10 a.m. on June 4, in which he stated that no agreement had been reached on withdrawal of troops, screening of refugees, or curtailment of intelligence activities in Berlin, was transmitted in Secto 175 from Geneva, June 4. (Ibid., 396.1–GE/6–459) For a transcript of the President’s press conference at 10:30 a.m. on June 3, in which he stated that progress at Geneva had been insufficient to warrant a summit conference, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959, pp. 425–435. A summary of Lloyd’s press conference on June 3, in which he indicated that the West was considering troop reductions and screening of refugees and that Berlin should be dealt with in a report to the Heads of Government and at a summit meeting in July, is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1366.