29. Talking Points Paper1


(The President might wish to raise)

We agree with de Gaulle that Berlin is of paramount importance. It is the symbol of our determination and ability to prevent further Communist[Page 79]expansion in Europe. The US is determined, in cooperation with its allies, to preserve the freedom of the people of West Berlin and to defend the Allied position in the city, upon which the preservation of that freedom to such a large extent depends.

US concern with strengthening conventional forces should, under no circumstances, be interpreted as affecting our decision to use nuclear weapons if necessary to defend all the NATO area, including Berlin. As we have recently informed NATO, “deterrence requires that NATO shield forces continue to have an effective nuclear capability, and the Soviets must never be allowed to doubt NATO’s readiness to use this capability, if necessary, together with the nuclear forces outside the European theater, to counter Soviet attack on Europe.”2

We believe the Soviet Union is likely to heighten tension over Berlin this year most probably by a renewed threat to sign a “separate peace treaty” with the “GDR”, possibly with an indication of willingness first to have another round of negotiations. Depending on how the issue is raised, it may become desirable again to enter into negotiations on Berlin and Germany. France, the US, the UK, and the Germans should, therefore, review the position they should take in such negotiations.

We should attempt to negotiate on Berlin only within the context of the entire German question. However, we must realistically be prepared to negotiate separately on Berlin. Furthermore, it seems questionable that any all-German approach acceptable to the West would provide the basis for even a temporary solution to the Berlin problem, or indeed that any real step toward German reunification can be taken within the foreseeable future under circumstances acceptable to the West.

If the Soviets sign a “separate peace treaty”, our position should be that this unilateral act cannot affect our rights in Berlin, and that we are determined to continue to exercise those rights, including specifically the right of access.

The US is urgently and thoroughly reviewing certain aspects of Berlin contingency planning with a view to the development of more precise governmentally-agreed courses of action. When our review is concluded, in the very near future, we wish to discuss this matter with the French, the British, and the Germans—through the established Washington machinery—as well as with our other NATO allies.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 1894. Secret. The source text bears no drafting information, but it was prepared for President Kennedy’s meeting with de Gaulle May 31-June 2 in Paris.
  2. Regarding the statement that Finletter made to the North Atlantic Council on April 26, which contained this phrase, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XIII, Document 103, footnote 2.