449. Telegram From the Delegation to the Foreign Ministers Meeting to the Department of State0
Secto 345. Eyes only for Ambassadors at Moscow, Paris, London and Bonn; and eyes only for Gufler Berlin. Subject: Private session.
After lunch today with Couve there was two-hour discussion with Gromyko which proved to be totally unsatisfactory.1 Secretary was accompanied by Merchant and Reinhardt; Couve by Lucet and Laloy; Lloyd by Reilly and Hancock; and Gromyko by Zorin and Soldatov. Conversation was entirely in English and Gromyko while completely intransigent was amiable throughout.
Gromyko made perfectly clear that Soviets now insist on Western agreement to some form of all-German negotiations as condition for interim Berlin settlement. He consistently parried all attempts by Couve, Lloyd and Secretary to elicit clear statement as to Soviet reason for link between these two matters by stating, as he has in plenary sessions to date, that link is logical and real.
He stated that while Soviets are prepared to consider other forms of all-German collaboration it is essential that German negotiations be conducted independently and not to “control or protection” of four powers. He invited West to submit alternative proposals re negotiating body if Soviet suggestion for all-German committee unacceptable.
Gromyko rebuffed repeated efforts, particularly by Secretary and Lloyd, to ascertain correct interpretation of duration aspect of Soviet June 19 proposal by insisting that Soviet statements in this connection perfectly clear and only Soviet interpretation should be relied on. At one point, Lloyd repeated his summation (given July 16 plenary) of his understanding of Soviet and Western positions on various aspects of possible interim Berlin settlement—troop levels, weapons, activities, duration, and access. With regard to duration, he gave as his interpretation of Soviet position that end of fixed period FonMins would resume negotiations and that pending result thereof situation would remain unchanged and neither side would take unilateral action; he then put specific question to Gromyko as to whether this a correct interpretation. Gromyko brushed off latter inquiry by saying Soviet position was as expressed (as he did throughout meeting) and re other aspects said no [Page 1006] understanding existed except possibly on weapons. In any case, he added, all aspects interlinked and impossible for Soviets to take position on one without reaching understanding on whole package. He then dismissed subject by reverting to his oft-repeated demand for discussion of all-German negotiations.
Gromyko agreed to Lloyd’s suggestion that FonMins lunch with him Monday and hold plenary Tuesday.
After Gromyko’s departure Secretary discussed with Couve and Lloyd the significance of present Soviet interansigence. Couve’s reaction was that we should not subject ourselves further to such insulting treatment by Gromyko and that we should bring negotiations to a close. He said it was perfectly clear to him now that the Soviets are interested solely in German question and are exploiting West’s concern over Berlin in order enhance status of GDR by bringing two Germanies together on an equal basis. In his view if we should agree any such arrangement we would inevitably contribute to the weakening of West Germany which would mean a real danger of war which does not exist now. Lloyd, obviously somewhat disturbed by Couve’s reaction, suggested Ministers should ponder on it overnight and meet tomorrow at 11 am in an effort further to assess the significance of the present Soviet position and estimate where to go from here.