424. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Kozlov Visit and Preparations for Resumption of the Geneva Conference


  • Sir Harold Caccia, British Ambassador
  • Mr. R.W. Jackling, Counselor, British Embassy
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Livingston T. MerchantEUR
  • Mr. Martin J. HillenbrandGER

In response to Ambassador Caccia’s inquiry, the Secretary said that Kozlov had nothing of particular interest to say this morning on the subject of Berlin.1 He repeated his lines just as though he were a phonograph record; every one of the usual Soviet arguments was trotted out. At the White House2 he did emphasize that he could assure the President that the Soviets wanted to negotiate, not only on the subject of Berlin but on any other outstanding problems. Kozlov also led up to the possibility of the President’s meeting with Khrushchev after a discussion of their mutual interests in agriculture. There was no suggestion, however, of any specific meeting.

The Secretary went on to say that he had had an opportunity to talk with the President after his last meeting with Caccia.3 While the President had in general approved the approach suggested, both he and the Secretary were doubtful about the advisability of distributing a specific paper. If it were given to the British, it would likewise have to be given to the French and Germans. This would almost inevitably lead to publicity about alleged new Western offers, which from a tactical point of view would be highly undesirable. There was no objection to going over the substance of our thinking with Caccia, but we wanted to be able to say there was no paper in circulation. The Secretary reiterated the point that the Western Powers were handicapped at Geneva because of prior talk about fallback positions which the Soviets could not believe did not really exist.

Ambassador Caccia said that his understanding of the situation was that the Soviets seemed to have given some indication of their fall [Page 964] back position, and the task of the Western Powers now was to find out with some certainty what this was. As he understood it, the Secretary was suggesting that, tactically, the Western Powers should begin at Geneva by probing the Soviets. The Secretary agreed, and added that the Western Foreign Ministers could talk about the development of their position after they had reassembled in Geneva. This would help to avoid giving the impression through leaks that the Western Powers were making concessions right from the beginning.

The Secretary handed to Caccia (for perusal but not retention) the paper which he had discussed with the President.4 He noted that there were two blanks in it which might be left for the heads of governments to fill in at a Summit Conference.

The Secretary commented that the President had introduced a new thought when he said that the type of arrangement we could agree to when dealing with people who were not our own was something which they themselves could accept. The cut-off point as to what we could accept would be what they themselves might be willing to accept, perhaps in a referendum.

Caccia asked whether the United States draft communiqué precluded a turnover at the check points by the Soviets to GDR officials. The Secretary indicated that this would probably not be a sticking point, but was not directly relevant to the proposal in question, since this envisaged a moratorium. The Secretary pointed out that, in his recent Moscow statement, Gromyko had made no reference to civil access in Berlin.5 Any agreed position on access bringing this within the scope of a Four Power commission would be a net gain for the West. The present draft essentially contained only two new things: (a) substitution of a Four Power commission with German advisers for the all-German committee proposed by the Soviets and (b) introduction of the UN on a reciprocal basis for both sections of Berlin to monitor certain propaganda activities. Relative to the latter item the Secretary said he did not believe the Soviets could accept this, but the burden of responsibility for refusing it would be on them and this would be an advantage from our point of view. The most difficult aspect for us was acceptance of a time limit. This would require, of course, that at the end of the period negotiations would be within the framework of unimpaired Western rights.

The Secretary indicated that he was somewhat surprised to learn that the French, without consulting either the United States or the United Kingdom, had invited the Italians to a dinner party in Geneva on [Page 965] July 12. Caccia said that Lloyd could get there in time for dinner but no earlier. It would be up to Couve to take care of the other arrangements. The Belgian Minister Wigny was on the warpath. The Secretary pointed out that Luns was likewise certain to be irritated. Mr. Merchant noted that Luns would be in Geneva on July 12–13. The Secretary and Ambassador Caccia agreed that the further arrangements for Sunday were essentially Couve’s responsibility.

Caccia said that he had received a message from Prime Minister Macmillan in response to a previous inquiry as to whether the British had any items they might wish Vice President Nixon to take up in Moscow later this month.6 The Prime Minister had indicated that it seemed too early to make any specific suggestions, since these would be dependent on developments at Geneva. Lloyd would, of course, be in touch with the Secretary, and if the British had anything to suggest, this presumably could be done at the last minute.

In response to a query, the Secretary confirmed that he planned to depart from Washington early on July 11, although his travel plans were still somewhat contingent on the type of plane which could actually be used. Caccia said he would like to see the Secretary once more before his departure for Geneva, but thought it would be better to limit his visits in order to avoid giving the impression that something was cooking.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D199. Secret. Drafted by Hillenbrand and approved by Herter on July 7.
  2. See Document 422.
  3. See footnote 6, Document 422.
  4. See Document 419.
  5. See attachment B to Document 418.
  6. For text of Gromyko’s statement on June 28, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 349–360.
  7. See Document 466.