423. Memorandum of Conversation Between President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Herter0

I remained with the President after his interview with Mr. Kozlov1 in order to continue our earlier discussion of the paper I had left with him outlining the proposed U.S. position on Berlin.2 The President expressed general approval of the suggested approach but was doubtful about the advisability of distributing a specific paper even to the British since we would then have to give copies to the French and Germans, thus leading inevitably to publicity about alleged new Western offers. The President felt this publicity would be highly undesirable from a tactical point of view, with which I said I entirely agreed.

The President said he had no objection to my suggestion that I go over the substance of our thinking with Caccia but emphasizing that we wanted to be able to say there was no paper in circulation. In this connection, he authorized me to allow Caccia to read but not retain the actual paper under discussion.

The President went on to say that tactically he felt the Western Powers should begin at Geneva by probing the Soviets to find out whether there had been any change in their position during the recess. We agreed that the Western Foreign Ministers could talk about the development of their position after they had reassembled in Geneva, thus avoiding possible leaks which would give the impression that the Western Powers were making concessions from the beginning of the resumed talks. With respect to the two blanks in the paper, the President agreed that these might be left for the Heads of Government to fill in at a Summit conference.

With respect to the type of arrangement to which we could finally agree, the President expressed the view that the cut-off point as to what we could accept would be what those people directly affected by the agreement might be willing themselves to accept, perhaps in a referendum.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Meetings with the President. Secret. Drafted by Krebs.
  2. See footnote 6, Document 422.
  3. See attachment B to Document 418.