232. Letter From the Ambassador to Germany (McGhee) to Secretary of State Rusk1

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I wish to bring to your attention a study prepared by the Embassy on the subject, “To What Extent Should We Be Concerned about German Dealings with The East?”2

As is pointed out in the airgram, the United States Government has generally endorsed German initiatives in this field and has so far attempted to set no limits on them, in regard to either procedure or substance. At some point, however, there is a possibility of misunderstandings arising if the Germans, in pursuing contacts with the East, were to enter into areas of discussion—or agreement—which affect US and NATO interests. It would therefore seem to be prudent to attempt to define those areas where we would make it clear that we expect advance consultation and coordination. You may recall that I touched on this matter briefly in an earlier telegram (Bonn 2654).3

To summarize our conclusions, we find no presently foreseeable difficulties in regard to the FRG’s pursuit of expanded or improved bilateral relations either with East Germany, the other small countries of Eastern Europe or with the USSR. These activities, as a rule, do not appear directly to affect US or Western interests. Indeed, they are fully consonant with and should serve to support our own objectives. The existing consultative procedures are believed to be adequate.

In regard to multilateral affairs, however, it is believed that there lie potential misunderstandings. This is particularly true of European security arrangements, in which the Federal Government under Kiesinger and Brandt has shown a particular interest. The various proposals in this field generally affect US interests—as well as those of NATO as a whole. As a rule, our views coincide with the current German attitudes. However, at some future date, the Germans might feel compelled to push ahead faster than the circumstances call for—on such proposals as a mutual reduction of foreign troops in Germany, which we both endorse in principle, or to consider communist proposals such as the Rapacki Plan, which under foreseeable circumstances would be disadvantageous to the West. On appropriate occasions, we should make our views on these problems clear to the Germans in order to avoid pitfalls of misunderstanding.

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I am sending copies of the enclosed airgram to the Under Secretary, John Leddy, Foy Kohler, Tommy Thompson, and Harlan Cleveland. I assume that John Leddy will coordinate the Department’s comments, which we would be very interested in receiving. On the basis of this reaction we will prepare a recommended plan of action.4

With all good wishes.

Sincerely yours,

George C. McGhee
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files,POL GER W–US. Confidential.
  2. The paper was transmitted in airgram A–459 from Bonn, October 12. (Ibid.)
  3. Document 229.
  4. In an October 27 reply to McGhee, Under Secretary of State Katzenbach stated agreement with the points made in the letter and added: “It is terribly important, however, that when we talk with the Germans about limitations on their freedom of action we do it without leaving the impression that we stand in the way of progress toward reunification.” (Department of State, Central Files, POL GER W–US)