60. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Regional Organizations1

Topol 38. Eyes only for Finletter from Secretary. I am deeply disturbed by restlessness on part of Stikker and NAC members about consultations on Berlin. A first order of business has been to reply to Soviet aide-mémoire. Obviously, such a reply ought to be made in harmony with those who share occupation rights with us and with Federal Republic. This required time needed for careful preparation US proposed reply plus quadripartite consultation. It was not surprising that three other governments had a considerable number of suggestions and that these suggestions had to be resolved into a single text. The principal aspect of the draft reply is that it basically restates the essential elements of the Western position on the most important issues raised by the Soviet aide-mémoire. It does not purport to offer new proposals since such proposals must be carefully worked out among allied governments, including NATO. Since draft reply generally restates what we have considered to be agreed Western position, we hope that NAC governments can review it promptly. Obviously, new proposals would require more time.

Meanwhile, a far-reaching review has been going on within US government on Germany and Berlin. We cannot begin intergovernmental consultations on courses of action or any proposals until we ourselves are clear about how we see the problem and how we think the West ought to proceed. There has not been intergovernmental consultations on these aspects. Unfortunate press speculations and leaks out of context have apparently been picked up in Europe as evidence that far-reaching decisions have been taken and that intergovernmental consultations have moved into final stages without preliminary consultations with Stikker or NATO members. This is simply not so and repeated indications of this attitude among NATO members in the face of your assurances to contrary amount to wholly unacceptable suggestions of bad faith. If NATO members are impatient about delay, they should reflect upon fact that Berlin crisis involves the gravest possible issues and that problem requires serious and intensive study. US must accept its grave responsibilities with utmost clarity and do everything within its power to ensure that its proposals to its allies and to the Soviet Union fully [Page 181] reflect those responsibilities. We could quickly and automatically simply repeat earlier positions but the new Administration has an obligation to review the matter deeply and bring together political, military, economic, propaganda and other factors in a position which can offer wise, firm and effective leadership to the free world.

Also relevant is the observation I made in Oslo that consultation is a two-way street and that the initiative is available to all parties. Despite the fact that it is well known that Germany and Berlin are very much on our agenda for fundamental policy and action determination, Canada has been the only NATO country (outside the quadripartite group) to furnish us with specific and thought-out suggestions about how the crisis can be handled or what the general nature of Western proposals might be.2 Needless to say, we would welcome such views at the very time when it is known that we are thinking hard about the US position on future courses of action.

In your private conversations with Stikker and NAC representatives, you should feel free to be frank and direct and need not feel defensive.

If NATO governments feel embarrassed by a reference to them in first paragraph our draft reply, you and British, French and German NAC representatives can consult and agree to eliminate that reference or change word “consult” to the notion that “we have had the benefit of the views of” or some such language.

You will be receiving separate instructions on French points raised in Topol 36.3

As to timing NATO consultation, we are most anxious to proceed on schedule first indicated.4 US is under great pressure foreign and domestic opinion about reply. Considerations first paragraph above plus our assumption NATO Governments have also been thinking hard about Berlin seem to us to make original schedule possible. Am sending personal message to foreign ministers this point in effort speed up their response.5 If we cannot get rapid reaction to reply which largely sets the record straight, it is discouraging to envisage difficulties allied [Page 182] consultations in weeks ahead on basic questions about future course of action. Please do your best on this with individual NAC members.

FYI. President considers timing publication reply most urgent matter and we would have to consider possibility of proceeding unilaterally if proposed schedule cannot be met. End FYI.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/7-961. Secret. Drafted by Rusk and cleared by Hillenbrand.
  2. On July 6 the Canadian Minister brought to the Department of State a memorandum that included seven points that might be part of a supplementary agreement on Berlin. The text of the memorandum and the Department of State’s reaction to it were transmitted to Bonn in telegram 28, July 6. (Ibid., 762.00/7-661)
  3. Topol 36 to Paris, July 8, reported that the French could not accept two sentences in the July 4 draft reply and suggested further coordination of the drafts should take place in Paris. (Ibid., 762.00/7-861)
  4. The schedule called for delivery of the German reply to the February 17 Soviet aide-mémoire on July 10, followed by delivery on July 13 of the U.S., French, and British replies to the June 4 aide-mémoire.
  5. See Document 61.