487. Telegram From the Delegation to the Foreign Ministers Meeting to the Department of State0
Secto 408. AmEmbassies Moscow, London, Bonn—eyes only Ambassador. AmEmbassy Paris—eyes only Ambassadors Houghton and Burgess. USBER Berlin—eyes only Gufler. Subject: Private Session.
At 5:30 this afternoon Merchant handed Soldatov slightly modified Western proposal on Berlin (Secto 410)1 and Soldatov delivered Soviet proposal unofficial translation of which contained in immediately following telegram. (Secto 409)2[Page 1081]
Soldatov read our proposal rapidly and commented he saw little or any change. Merchant replied careful study would reveal certain changes and pointed to acceptance Soviet language on atomic weapons and missiles which Soldatov shrugged off. Merchant then pointed to final paragraph and Soldatov smiled at reference to 5 years. Merchant pointed out Gromyko statement time period not matter of importance or principle.
Soldatov then said he was disturbed to note troop figure in our paper remained at 11,000. He said that we must now appreciate vital importance Soviets attached to agreement on a substantial reduction from 11,000 and asked earnestly what we had in mind in this respect. Merchant replied that 11,000 represented our firm position and as the Secretary had said yesterday3 willingness on our part to set this ceiling was in our view a very important concession to the professed Soviet concern over the size of the Western garrison in Berlin. He said that moreover growing Soviet concentration on an effort to achieve a reduction gave us increasing cause for suspicion as to what they had in mind. Soldatov dropped subject after repeating that Soviets attached the highest importance to this point.
Merchant inquired if Soviet inclusion of reiteration all-German committee proposal in working paper presumably on Berlin should be construed as interdependent link of these two subjects. Soldatov evaded by saying inclusion intended to give complete Soviet position and that Gromyko had repeatedly made clear his position on this point. Soldatov was reminded that on July 20 Western representatives had put forward their views on most appropriate method for continuing discussion of German problem as a whole.
In response to query Soldatov said Soviets had no present intention publishing their proposal and was told this reflected our intentions likewise with respect to Western paper.
Invitation was extended on behalf of the Secretary to Gromyko plus two advisers for private bilateral luncheon tomorrow with expressed hope long talk could follow. Soldatov promised prompt reply to invitation and made no reference to plenary or any other meeting for Wednesday.