99. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • German Reunification

PARTICIPANTS

  • UK Side
    • Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart
    • Sir Harold Caccia, Permanent Under Secretary of State, Foreign Office
    • Michael Stewart, Charge d’Affaires a.i., British Embassy
    • R.S. Crawford, Asssistant Under Secretary, Foreign Office
    • Michael Hadow, Counselor, Foreign Office
    • J.N. Henderson, Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary
    • John Harris, Special Assistant to the Foreign Secretary
  • US Side
    • The Secretary
    • Ambassador Bruce
    • Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson
    • Willian R. Tyler, Assistant Secretary, EUR
    • Phillips Talbot, Assistant Secretary, NEA
    • J. Harold Shullaw, Director, BNA
[Page 245]

The Secretary said that the Germans want some initiative on reunification but are reluctant to get into a consideration of borders and security arrangements. We are prepared to be helpful but are not clear what can be done. We have picked up the idea of a statement on May 8, but this has been somewhat downgraded by premature publicity. The problem is that if we make proposals to the Russians they may come back with counter proposals for a free city status for Berlin and we could find ourselves back in the crisis atmosphere of 1961. We have no desire to see a repetition of the Western disarray of that period when we found very little support among our allies, with the exception of the British. The Secretary said that we have a preliminary draft of a May 8 statement and it is up to the Germans to say whether or not it meets their needs.

The Foreign Secretary said that while electoral considerations are prompting the Germans to urge a Western initiative at this time, a further motivation results from the difficulties they are experiencing with the UAR and other Arab states. The Federal Republic is concerned at the prospect of further recognitions of the East German regime and hopes to discourage such action by a Western declaration. Mr. Stewart said that there is no immediate prospect of getting anywhere on reunification and this means that a Western statement can be hardly more than a series of platitudes. Ambassador Thompson said that our draft statement emphasizes four-power responsibility, but the Germans would like to include a reference to negotiations; this causes problems since there is no agreed Western position; the Germans say that it is impossible to get their political leaders to focus on the problem until negotiations are about to begin. Sir Harold said that Gromyko had emphasized that disarmament would have to be a precondition to reunification. The Secretary noted that security arrangements and disarmament would have to be a part of an agreement on reunification. The Foreign Secretary replied that reunification cannot be achieved without the agreement of the Russians and that is not in prospect. The Secretary said that in December Gromyko had suggested that there might be some point in resuming bilateral US/Soviet talks and he did not exclude the possibility of injecting some new elements in the discussions. The Secretary recalled that the previous bilateral talks in 1961 were limited to the problem of Berlin. He said that we are not enthusiastic about resuming these talks without knowing what our allies think.

The Secretary said that in the course of the German election campaign, we can anticipate agitation on the question of the Eastern territories and public statements requiring a reaction from us. Mr. Stewart said emphatically that there is no prospect of the Germans recovering the lost territories and they should be in no doubt on the score. A reunified Germany within present borders is what is required. Ambassador Thompson [Page 246]said Germany would like some minor border rectifications, for example in the Stettin area.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–4 GER. Secret. Drafted by Shullaw and approved in S and G on April 2. The source text is marked “Part 1 of 4.” The meeting was held at the British Embassy. Stewart visited Washington March 21–24.