454. Telegram From the Delegation to the Foreign Ministers Meeting to the Department of State0
Secto 353. Eyes only for Ambassadors at Moscow, Paris, London, Bonn and eyes only Gufler Berlin. Western Foreign Ministers met this morning at Villa les Ormeaux to discuss present state of conference and tactics for next meetings. It was agreed to submit at earliest plenary session proposal for extension of present Geneva Conference under no time limit as counter-proposal to Soviet all-German committee plan. It was also agreed ultimately to accept time limit of not less than two and a half years in interim arrangement for Berlin.
At outset of meeting Secretary expressed his concern at appearance West was abandoning overall German problem as well as his concern at Gromyko’s implied interpretation that US was not squarely opposed to all-German committee. The Secretary expressed his desire to make firm statements on both counts at next plenary session. In discussion of problem posed by Gromyko’s apparent adamant stand on all-German committee, Lloyd observed that conference could not be permitted to break down on question of contacts between Germans and submitted draft of possible Western proposal1 to counter Soviet position. Couve saw no purpose of trying to do anything with respect to elements interim Berlin settlement until this preliminary question was solved. He thought that if conference failed, it would be on this point and not on such questions as propaganda in Berlin or level of troops there. Issue was simply that under Berlin threat Soviets were trying to force on us their solution for Germany as a whole.
It was agreed that this problem of linkage and all-German committee was both important and difficult from public relations point of view and that therefore proposal should be tabled in plenary session as soon as possible. To this end it was also agreed to seek Gromyko’s agreement to advance next plenary from Tuesday to Monday (Gromyko subsequently agreed). Lloyd’s proposal as amended by Ministers reads as follows: “The Geneva Conference of Foreign Ministers as at present constituted shall continue in being for the purpose of considering the [Page 1013] German problem as a whole. It should also consider questions relating to the extension and development of contacts between the two parts of Germany. For these purposes the conference shall meet from time to time at such level and at such place as are agreed. The conference may also make special arrangements for the consideration of particular questions arising out of its terms of reference as defined above.”
Couve thought it was highly important to clarify Gromyko’s understanding of Western position not only on question of Germany as a whole but also on the issue of linkage and of a time limit for interim Berlin solution. He pointed out that Ministers were compelled to take decision on this question of time limit since otherwise it was not realistic to endeavor both to deny linkage between interim Berlin solution and German problem and to stick to terms of July 16 paper which called for interim period to run until reunification. Accordingly, he asked whether Ministers were prepared to accept time limit on interim Berlin solution. Secretary replied he was prepared provided agreement was completely clear that at end of period Western rights in Berlin would not be impaired. He thought period should not be less than 30 months and that for bargaining purposes we should probably start with figure of not less than five years. It was noted that public opinion had already pretty much accepted the concept of time limit for Berlin interim solution. Secretary observed that drafting of language to cover second Berlin phase would be particularly difficult.
Secretary raised question of his visit to Berlin for purpose of dedication street to John Foster Dulles and said he was considering making a visit on Saturday, July 25, if convenient and agreeable to his colleagues. There was no objection.
Couve announced that he would be absent in Paris Wednesday morning for Cabinet meeting but would return to Geneva by 2 p.m. There was some discussion of problem of reporting to NATO latest developments and Ministers welcomed Lloyd’s offer to accompany Couve to Paris on Wednesday and appear before NATO Council that morning.