270. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Berlin


  • U.S.
    • Secretary Rusk
    • Ambassador Goldberg
    • Ambassador Thompson
  • Soviet
    • Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov
    • Ambassador Malik
    • Ambassador Dobrynin
    • Mr. Mendelevich

The Secretary said he wished to raise the question of Berlin. We were very much disappointed at recent developments affecting the 4-power agreements on Berlin to which the Soviet Union was a party. We were always sensitive to developments affecting access to Berlin. It was difficult to understand why these actions had been taken without any consultations with the other interested parties. The measures taken affected travel and trade and were a threat to the viability of Berlin. He hoped the authorities in East Germany and in the Soviet Union realized the gravity [Page 683] of making decisions affecting access to Berlin. The measures already taken were slowing down the traffic to Berlin. There was a further aspect and this was how these measures could be taken if there was a serious interest on the part of the Soviet Union to get Germany to sign the non-proliferation treaty. The German point of view was that they were already committed to their allies on the question of atomic weapons. They considered the NPT a unilateral concession to the Soviets without any reciprocity. The measures with regard to access to Berlin fed the opponents of the non-proliferation treaty in West Germany and added an additional new burden on this problem. The timing almost made it look as if the purpose was to sabotage the non-proliferation treaty. The Secretary said we could not accept the reason given for these measures. The Mayor of Berlin had made it clear that the emergency legislation would not apply to Berlin and there had been a gradual improvement of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union and between the countries of East and West Europe. The question arose whether East Germany wanted to interrupt this. He concluded by saying this was indeed a very serious matter.

Kuznetsov said the Government of the GDR had taken no new steps with regard to the existing situation on access. The line was the same as before. The East Germans were handling the access with respect to West Germany on the same basis as they would citizens of a foreign country. They now only require visas, which was a normal practice of sovereign countries, and allied access was not affected. It was not the intention of the Soviet Union to aggravate relations with the United States or with other war-time allies. We have developed an approach and understanding with respect to the GDR which the Soviets considered a sovereign state. Any attempt on the part of the West Germans to connect the non-proliferation treaty with the visa problem was deliberate on the part of opponents of the non-proliferation treaty.

The Secretary said that, looking at the long-standing practice with respect to access to Berlin, it was hard to see how these measures could be taken in this way at this time. The East Germans were requiring visas and imposing a fee for transit to West Berlin which was a burden on access. The proposed taxes on goods in transit were costs which could be discussed in the existing machinery for Inter-Zonal trade between East and West Germany. The way in which these measures were carried out, including neglect of consultation among the four powers with responsibility, was of very serious concern.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 28 GER B. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Thompson. Secretary Rusk flew to New York on June 14 for meetings with Secretary-General U Thant and Romanian and Soviet officials. He returned to Washington that evening.