77. Telegram From the Embassy in Italy to the Department of State0

2882. Paris also for USRO and Thurston. Highlights of official Gronchi-Khrushchev talks1 given us by Straneo (Foreign Ministry Dir Gen of Pol Affairs) in following terms. (He expected Alessandrini2 in Paris would be instructed to give report soon to NAC.)

Khrushchev spoke throughout with semblance of full conviction in Communist theory and with great confidence in Soviet economic and military power, in certainty of eventual triumph of “socialism” and in logical strength of current Soviet negotiating positions. He said in effect that, if West agrees on desirability of reducing international tensions, necessary and obvious first step is liquidation of consequences of world war; change in present frontiers is unthinkable; East German state exists and fact should be recognized; Berlin should in its entirety be incorporated into GDR; nevertheless as real concession to West USSR had been able to persuade GDR to agree to West Berlin being free city (with elimination of propaganda and reduction of troops to symbolic force) and to USSR controlling access routes, as to which USSR prepared to give appropriate guarantee.

Khrushchev said he knew Gronchi had in mind to propose entire Berlin as free city. This would never be acceptable since it would mean liquidation of Socialist regime in East Berlin. USSR, while sympathizing with policies of foreign Communist parties, because of correctness of their policies, does not interfere in internal affairs of other states. Confident of superior strength of their forces, USSR will not agree to any measures which mean cancellation of Socialist gains. President Eisenhower had admitted situation in Berlin was abnormal. If solution not found at forthcoming summit meeting, USSR will turn over control of access to GDR.

Reunification, according to Khrushchev, is impossible concept; there could be confederation of two Germanies and, if this was achieved, peace treaty could be made with confederation. If this solution not possible, separate treaties should be concluded with each of two Germanies. Khrushchev said he planned to proceed on this line; that US had objected; and that he had said to President Eisenhower that US had [Page 192] acted unilaterally in concluding peace treaty with Japan, that USSR had gone along and that he did not see why West should object now if he proceeded unilaterally with GDR.

As sidelight on “symbolic” forces in West Berlin, Khrushchev said he had no firm views on exact numbers. For his part, he had told President Eisenhower he would prefer to see Western forces number one hundred thousand because all forces in West Berlin would at once be taken prisoner in case of war; to which President Eisenhower had agreed.

On disarmament, Khrushchev agreed that it was important to get on with discussions but, if West was trying to give disarmament precedence over German questions as trick to maintain status quo, he was not such a fool as to fall into trap. Disarmament negotiations would last at least four years—Americans thought longer—and he would not accept postponement of settlement of Berlin and German questions.

Gronchi stressed difficulty of settling these questions without consent of peoples concerned saying for example, solution could not be imposed on people of West Berlin. Khrushchev replied he had no intention of doing this. Germany had attacked USSR, had come close to Moscow and Berlin had eventually been occupied; Berlin’s status must be settled in framework of liquidation of war without consulting people.

On substance of disarmament, Khrushchev said Americans were most illogical. When he proposed nuclear ban, US said this was inequitable because USSR would retain preponderance in conventional force. Now that the Soviets were reducing latter, West refused to follow suit. Nevertheless he was prepared to proceed in both fields at the same time. He was prepared to accept control and inspection within certain limitations in agreed zones. He referred at one point to proposal, which he said he had made but which Straneo could not identify, for limitations in zone consisting of both Germanies and France. Khrushchev said important step in reducing international tension would be withdrawal of all US forces from Europe and said that, in exchange, Soviet troops would be withdrawn from non-Soviet European countries in which they were now stationed, which he identified as including only Hungary, Poland and East Germany. In response to specific questions from Embassy officer, Straneo said there had been no mention of proposal made some time ago for nuclear-free zone in Balkans and Italy or (except in context of general US withdrawal from Europe) to stationing of missiles in Italy.

In economic field, Khrushchev said US economy would be surpassed by end of seven year plan, that plan had been based on conservative estimate and that first year showed overall results one percent better than predicted. Strength of Soviet economy enabled USSR to help underdeveloped countries such as India and they would do this regardless of social systems of such countries. USSR would not extend aid in [Page 193] cooperation with West because USSR could not afford to have its principles compromised by association with exploitation of these peoples by Western capitalism, as he chose to describe our aid program.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.00/2–1360. Confidential. Repeated to Moscow, London, Paris, and Bonn.
  2. Italian Prime Minister Gronchi visited the Soviet Union February 6–11.
  3. Adolfo Alessandrini, Italian Permanent Representative to NATO.