491. Telegram From the Delegation to the Foreign Ministers Meeting to the Department of State0
Secto 418. Eyes only for Ambassadors at Moscow, London, Bonn; Paris Ambassadors Houghton and Burgess and Berlin Gufler. Subject: Private Session.
After lunch today, the Secretary and Gromyko, with advisers,1 had two and one-half hour discussion of Soviet and Western July 28 papers.2 Secretary probed hard on Soviet insistence on link, and Gromyko applied equal pressure for evidence of Western willingness to agree to troop reductions in Berlin. Our impression from discussion is that Gromyko is under considerable pressure to obtain Western concessions on troop issue and would be prepared to pay the price of dropping the link. In reply to repeated questioning by Gromyko Secretary indicated that Soviet concession on link could have some bearing on Western attitude toward reduction of troop levels, but he carefully eschewed language that could be interpreted by Soviets as a commitment. Secretary informed Gromyko he must leave Geneva next Wednesday to attend Santiago Conference and suggested, if no agreement by then, negotiations be continued at Deputy level or recessed. Gromyko rejected both suggestions on ground they would not be understood or accepted by world public opinion; he said only solution was to speed up tempo of [Page 1087] negotiations in effort to reach agreement by Wednesday. His remarks on this point carried definite indication that he himself is anxious and probably under some pressure to bring negotiations to an early end.
Following additional points emerged from detailed discussion of Soviet and Western positions on various aspects of Berlin settlement as reflected by July 28 papers:
- Preamble Secretary objected to statement in Soviet preamble that objective of settlement is to change situation in Berlin on ground this seemed convey impression of liquidation of Western rights. Gromyko said he was prepared to drop entire preamble and substitute therefor a simple introductory clause reading: “Foreign Ministers have agreed on the following arrangements with regard to Berlin to be in force for ‘X period’.” The Secretary said he would consider Gromyko’s suggestion.
- Troop Reductions. In pressing for Western concession on troop level issue, Gromyko repeated his old argument that this would constitute proof of West’s willingness to cooperate in reduction of tensions. Prodded by Zorin, Gromyko expressed view that a Berlin settlement without provision for reduction of Western troop levels would be “senseless”. When queried by Secretary as to why Soviet July 28 paper extends reductions to armaments, as well as troop levels, Gromyko replied that this was a repetition of June 9 language and simply reflected logical assumption that if troops leave, their weapons go also.
- Armament. Discussion revealed that misunderstanding on this point was one of language, not of substance. Gromyko made clear that Soviets have in mind only missiles (not rockets) which require ground installation for launching.
- Activities. Despite Secretary’s firm insistence on absolute reciprocity, Gromyko gave no indication he was prepared to have jurisdiction of Soviet-proposed supervisory committee extended to East Berlin. Nor does he see any merit in assigning responsibility in this field to UN. He pointed out that before Geneva Conference Soviets had made exhaustive study of problem in Berlin from which they concluded that the only subversive and propaganda activities carried on in East Berlin are those in direct response to similar activities emanating from West Berlin. In any case, Gromyko was hopeful that GDR declaration, not yet drafted, would satisfy Western preoccupation with need for reciprocity.
- Supervisory Committee. As indicated above, Secretary made clear that responsibilities of supervisory committee must cover both parts of Berlin and extend to all obligations undertaken by all parties, including Soviet commitment with regard to access procedures. Gromyko pointed out that Western obligations envisaged by agreement were new commitments whereas Soviet declaration was simply [Page 1088] confirmation of existing responsibilities on access. In his view, therefore, there was no justification for treating obligations equally from standpoint supervision of their fulfillment. Secretary replied that agreement must be equitable; either all obligations should be subject to inspection or all should be in form of unilateral declarations.
- Access. While somewhat evasive in his response to Secretary’s probing, Gromyko gave impression that Soviet declaration with regard to access would mean confirmation that Soviet responsibilities extend to civilian as well as military access and that maintenance of present procedures applies to communications between East and West Berlin.
- Duration. The Secretary asked if language on duration in Western paper was acceptable to Gromyko. The latter replied that five-year term is unacceptable, that “in absence of reunification” should be deleted as serving no useful purpose, and that “arrangements” should be replaced by “question of West Berlin” as subject of negotiations which would take place on expiration of interim settlement. He made clear that such negotiations would be on basis of present conference composition—that is, four powers with Germans in advisory capacity. When Secretary pointed out that deletion of reference to arrangements could be interpreted as meaning that interim settlement and all prior agreements would expire on eve of negotiations, Gromyko felt this question was academic since any participant would be free to raise any question for discussion so long as it pertained to the Berlin problem.
He reiterated Soviet pledge not take unilateral action during life of interim agreement and subsequent negotiations; as to what situation would be thereafter, he could not say since impossible predict outcome of negotiations. Secretary pressed Gromyko to accept principle of continuing validity of interim arrangements, unless altered of dropped by four power agreement, but Gromyko said this violates concept of temporary solution and therefore not acceptable.
In discussion of future meetings, Gromyko readily agreed to Couve’s invitation, relayed by Secretary, to join other Foreign Ministers at lunch tomorrow and made no mention of desirability of meeting in plenary session as he has consistently at previous private meetings.
After Gromyko’s departure, Secretary gave full report to West FonMins on discussion. All felt Gromyko’s apparent anxiety to wind up negotiations could be exploited to West’s advantage. There was general agreement also on need to avoid any indication of possible concession on troop issue until other questions satisfactorily resolved. Otherwise with troop issue in his pocket, Gromyko would stiffen position on all other aspects. Lloyd suggested might be advisable leave this question open until subsequent meeting, presumably summit.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–2959. Secret; Limit Distribution. Transmitted in two sections and repeated to Moscow, Paris, London, Bonn, and Berlin. A detailed 10-page memorandum of this conversation, US/MC/163, is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1342. The Foreign Ministers also discussed disarmament following the conclusion of their consideration of conference developments. A memorandum of this conversation, US/MC/164, is ibid.↩
- Herter was accompanied by Toon, Merchant, and Reinhardt; Gromyko by Zorin, Soldatov, and Martynov.↩
- See Documents 488 and 489.↩