457. Telegram From the Delegation to the Foreign Ministers Meeting to the Department of State0

Secto 362. Eyes only Ambassadors. Berlin eyes only Gufler. Subject: Private Session.

In hour-long informal discussion after Lloyd lunch today for four Foreign Ministers, Lloyd took lead in giving Gromyko preview of [Page 1016] Western proposal for dealing with problem of Germany as a whole (text Secto 553 [353]).1 While reserving final judgment pending opportunity examine text, Gromyko expressed view proposal unacceptable since it provided for continued four power responsibility on reunification. This concept, Gromyko said, is contrary to Soviet position that this must be worked out only by Germans themselves, a position which is supported by present factual situation. Lloyd and Couve argued that acceptable solution could not prejudice either side’s fundamental positions and that West proposal, with its built-in flexibility on negotiating procedures, met this requirement. Gromyko, however, denied this, pointing out that essence of West proposal is to preserve four power responsibility for reunification which unacceptable to Soviets. The Secretary commented that Gromyko’s attitude means basic change in Soviet position since 1955 when Bulganin recognized four power responsibility for reunification by signature of heads of government directive2 and asked what had changed in situation to warrant this reversal of Soviet position. Gromyko replied that Soviets and West placed different interpretation on directive and this an old story. The Secretary then asked if, as apparent from Gromyko’s remarks, agreement on this point depends on West’s acceptance of Soviet position and if Soviets, as Gromyko said in Friday’s private meeting, refuse discuss elements of interim Berlin solution until agreement reached, is it Gromyko’s view that we should terminate discussions? While not directly responsive to Secretary’s inquiry, Gromyko’s reply that “He was not saying this” could be interpreted (and was so interpreted by Lloyd) that Soviet position re discussion of Berlin situation perhaps now somewhat less intransigeant than appeared Friday. This was only positive result of meeting, if it can be so described. Lloyd and Couve accepted Gromyko invitation to lunch tomorrow. Secretary declined because previous Red Cross commitment but will join others after lunch. Merchant and Reinhardt will however attend lunch itself. It was also tentatively agreed next plenary will be Wednesday.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–2059. Secret; Limit Distribution. A detailed six-page memorandum of this conversation, US/MC/136, is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1341.
  2. Document 454.
  3. For text of the Heads of Government Directive to their Foreign Ministers, July 23, 1955, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. V, pp. 527528.