451. Telegram From Secretary of State Herter to the Department of State 0

Cahto 149. For the President from the Secretary.

“Dear Mr. President:

I feel you should know that the conference today has taken what I consider a serious turn for the worse. This may of course be standard Soviet tactics or Gromyko may have instructions to stonewall until some particular scheduled event in Poland or even the Vice President’s arrival in Moscow. There is no doubt however but that the Soviet position has hardened since the recess. This afternoon Gromyko was not only obstructive but objectionable in the talk we had in private session following Couve’s luncheon.1

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All three of us did our best to pin him down on what our position would be with respect to our rights at the expiration of any temporary agreement on Berlin. All that Gromyko was interested in talking about was the all-German committee which he had proposed, or some variant of it which would maintain its essential features of forcing the Federal Republic to deal directly with the DDR as an equal, thereby enhancing the latter’s prestige and in fact taking the first step toward the type of confederation which the Soviets advocate.

Every time (and it must have happened a dozen times) Selwyn or Couve or I asked Gromyko in what respect was the interpretation which we had placed on his statements on our rights incorrect Gromyko gave us one of two replies. Either he said without acknowledging the question “Let us now discuss the all-German committee” or he said “The Soviet Union has made itself entirely clear on this matter.” Although his manner was polite and almost genial the net impression was close to insulting. Couve feels that we are approaching the break-up of the conference which does not unduly distress him and Selwyn is depressed. I think myself it is too early to judge but I did want to send you a word of warning on the way things seem to be going. Mac and I are lunching alone with Mr. and Mrs. Gromyko tomorrow and we will have another quadripartite luncheon meeting on Monday after which we should know more. We also have agreed to a plenary for Tuesday afternoon.

Faithfully, signed: Chris.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–1759. Secret; Niact.
  2. See Document 449.