181. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France0

4447. Paris also for USRO, Stoessel, McGuire. Thompson today informed Ambassadorial Group of Semenov aide-mémoire to McSweeney on March 18,1 replying to US comments of February 25 on resumption exploratory talks on Berlin.2 Text of aide-mémoire pouched all addressees March 18. Dobrynin told Thompson yesterday that he had instructions. Because of Secretary’s absence and Dobrynin trip to [Page 496] New York, talks will probably be postponed until sometime next week. Dobrynin seemed in no hurry and suggested that delay in receiving instructions had probably been due to Gromyko absence in Scandinavia.

Ormsby Gore reported on Khrushchev-Trevelyan talk of March 6 in which Khrushchev sought to disabuse British of any notion that Sovs had forgotten Berlin.3 No time limit on Berlin settlement mentioned. Khrushchev did refer to possibility that West Berlin’s communications could be “guaranteed internationally” reminding Trevelyan that “bridges could rot and not be repaired for a year and half.” Another reference to past was reminder of Soviet proposal in 1955 for mutual checks on Western and Soviet troops in Germany. Khrushchev professed puzzlement at US aims in Berlin talks, suggesting that domestic political needs were foremost. In answer to Home’s question Soldatov4 indicated “UN flag” in West Berlin meant Western troops under UN command.

British also reported Lord Home’s conversation of March 11 with Soldatov at latter’s request. Home disclaimed any intention of setting up parallel UK/Soviet talks on Berlin, but did suggest that Sovs would have to propose something new if progress were to be expected. Soldatov suggested that peace treaty with German states could lead to progress on disarmament treaty, while Home countered that some progress on disarmament might encourage solutions on other problems. Soldatov’s aim seemed also to remind West that Sovs had not shelved Berlin.

Germans reported on Groepper conversation with Khrushchev on March 9 which also had nothing new. Khrushchev twice mentioned that Sovs would agree to nothing which would be detrimental to GDR. Khrushchev proposed peace treaty with two German states in which West Berlin would become free city with guaranteed communications, with non-interference guaranteed and with border of German states fixed irrevocably. Signatories to peace treaty could re-affirm their aim of reunification, but as reunification not possible now, peace treaty could not wait.

For USRO: You may inform NAC of Soviet aide-mémoiré, and possible schedule for talks.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 28 Berlin. Secret. Drafted by Holloway; cleared by Hillenbrand, Guthrie, and RPM; and approved and initialed by Thompson. Also sent to Bonn, London, Moscow, and Berlin.
  2. In this 3-paragraph aide-mémoire, given to Chargé John McSweeney on March 18, the Soviet Union agreed to continue the U.S.-Soviet exchange of views on Berlin, agreed to conduct the talks in Washington, and stated that Dobrynin would be instructed accordingly. (Telegram 2325 from Moscow, March 18; ibid., POL US–USSR)
  3. See Document 179.
  4. On March 11 the Embassy in Moscow reported that Sir Humphrey Trevelyan, the new British Ambassador, and Horst Groepper, the new West German Ambassador, had briefed Kohler and the French Ambassador on their meetings with Khrushchev, March 6 and 9, respectively. On Berlin Khrushchev had reiterated the Soviet position without suggesting a deadline, but had not mentioned U.N. presence or Western forces in West Berlin. (Telegrams 2237 and 2240; Department of State, Central Files, POL 17–1 UK–USSR and POL 17–1 W GER-USSR)
  5. Alexandr Andreyevich Soldatov, Soviet Ambassador to the United Kingdom.