176. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Germany0

1914. Eyes only for Ambassadors and Lightner. When you see the Chancellor you should tell him that the President has asked you personally to assure him that his impression that US Govt took initiative with Soviets to resume talks on Berlin and Germany is erroneous.

You should tell Chancellor we note that German position, as set forth by Amb Knappstein in Ambassadorial Group meeting Feb 14,1 is that FRG sees no advantage in reacting swiftly to Gromyko overture, but that if US Govt wishes to resume talks FRG will not oppose. You should make it very clear to the Chancellor that if talks were resumed with the Soviets, we would want to limit their scope to exploring with the Soviet Govt whether a resumption of bilateral exploratory talks could lead to finding a basis for fruitful negotiations. We entirely agree that there should be no negotiations as such unless the Soviets are prepared to recognize the Western troop presence in Berlin without any unacceptable qualification. It seems to us that position now taken by German Govt toward talks is more negative than it was a year ago, and that there is now no difference between the German and French positions [Page 489] on this point. You should say that the President attaches great importance to close and mutually confident cooperation between him and the Chancellor, and that he has asked you to tell the Chancellor this. If we are to talk to the Soviets at all in response to their initiative, we would like to do so in the knowledge that the German Govt feels that such preliminary exploration is worth undertaking. You should tell the Chancellor that we have delayed sending Amb Kohler instructions in order to have this further exchange of views with him, and that we would like to have his completely candid thoughts and suggestions on the matter. If you think it helpful you might point to probability that refusal to talk with Soviets now may result in their increasing pressures on Berlin to force such talks, and this would be less desirable context in which to have exploratory conversations with them. You should say that we don’t relish the idea of talking to the Russians if the Germans are really against our doing so, and if the Chancellor feels that it would be a mistake we would like to review the situation.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 28 Berlin. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Tyler on February 15; cleared by Thompson, Hillenbr and, and the President; and approved and initialed by Rusk. Repeated to Moscow, Paris, London, and Berlin.
  2. See footnote 1, Document 175.
  3. On February 19 Morris, who discussed Berlin with the Chancellor because of Dowling’s sudden illness, reported that he had found Adenauer in a relaxed and reasonable frame of mind. After Morris reviewed the approach by Gromyko, the Chancellor replied that he now understood who had taken the initiative and that he was satisfied that President Kennedy was in the best position to judge how to respond to the Soviet proposal. (Telegram 2149 from Bonn; Department of State, Central Files, POL 28 Berlin)