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

2964. Paris for Ambassador and Finletter. Eyes only Ambassadors and Hulick. Secretary met with Dobrynin for ninety minutes Friday.1 Briefing procedures set forth Deptel 29222 should be followed by Ambassadors Dowling and Finletter in using following summary:

Meeting’s purpose was to give Dobrynin opportunity make known any further Moscow information prior to Secretary’s departure for various alliance meetings. Dobrynin said Khrushchev interview with Cowles and Gromyko speech to Supreme Soviet3 had given Sov position but he willing attempt clarification. Secretary picked up Gromyko reference to alleged American statement on lack of obstacle to “combining free access West Berlin with demand respect GDR sovereignty”. Secretary had commented on this at Thursday’s press conference.4Dobrynin said word “demand” means proposal, which Secretary accepted as adequate explanation for present.

Secretary then reviewed US vital interests in West Berlin as immediate questions and matters such as disarmament, non-aggression pacts, diffusion nuclear weapons, etc., as broader questions. Repeated US belief that if West Berlin vital interests agreed on, then others might fall more easily into place. However, if Gromyko demand for end of Occupation is essential element Sov position, then obstacles to agreement indeed formidable. Secretary referred to Geneva principles paper and International Access Authority proposal as possible sources progress, if these could be discussed on basis essential needs both sides. Principles paper deliberately omitted certain points of interest both sides but does provide means for continuing discussion on disagreed matters. In general, broader questions seemed susceptible movement and improvement, which thus brought us back to essential elements. For Berlin, this was our presence there. Secretary added that for disarmament, this was verification question.

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Dobrynin said he had nothing new on German question. His instructions were clear that Sov position on end of Occupation and Western troop presence remained as stated by Gromyko.

Secretary then examined Berlin problem against background developments in European integration, pointing out that possibility intra-European wars now gone after 500 years of intrigue, conflicts, etc. This was important for USSR security, particularly when taken with close link US to Western Europe. We believe presence US troops Berlin is actually a stabilizing factor as long as Germany is divided. We do not agree with Gromyko that absence peace treaty in Central Europe creates dangers. Unless Sovs intend push us out of West Berlin, lack of permanent German settlement not dangerous. Obviously, if Sovs do want to push us out, then situation indeed dangerous.

Dobrynin agreed that possibility European wars now remote. He disagreed that situation in Europe was not most important problem. Speaking “with deep conviction as Russian” he said Sovs could not accept Western troops in Berlin. Possibility that either German side could involve Sov and US troops in clashes was a danger. This was really only US–USSR point of confrontation.

Secretary said direct contact of troops of responsible powers not necessarily dangerous. No Man’s Land such as Korea had proved more dangerous.

Discussion then turned to reunification prospects and recognition GDR with no change in either side’s position. Secretary stressed we do not think division of Germany is good for anyone. It is the Sovs who wished make division permanent. Therefore, although practical situation obviously must continue as it is for time being, we believe it important not to foreclose question of reunification.

Secretary concluded that we had gone far to indicate agreement possible on some points, but Sovs must first come to grips with problems of access and presence. He suggested that conversation turn to these when he comes back.5 Suggested also possible consider Geneva principles paper, which unlike Sov paper, did not touch on controversial points. For example, our paper omitted any confirmation of Occupation.

Dobrynin agreed resume talks upon Secretary’s return, but pointed out he foresaw no change in Sov positions in next ten days. Secretary said he foresaw no change in ours either.

Conversation was cordial.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 375/4–2862. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Holloway; cleared by R/PM, SOV, S, S/S, and Hillenbrand; and approved and initialed by Kohler. Also sent to Paris and repeated to Moscow and Berlin.
  2. A 7-page memorandum of this conversation is ibid., 762.00/4–2762.
  3. Telegram 2922, April 24, instructed Finletter to brief the NATO Permanent Representatives on a restricted basis after Dowling had completed his briefing of German officials. (Ibid., 375/4–2462)
  4. For texts of Gardner Cowles’ April 20 interview with Khrushchev and Gromyko’s April 24 speech to the Supreme Soviet, see Pravda, April 27 and 25, 1962.
  5. For a transcript of Rusk’s press conference, April 26, see Department of State Bulletin, May 14, 1962, pp. 795–802.
  6. Rusk left Washington on April 29 to attend Alliance meetings in London, Athens, and Canberra. He returned on May 11.