123. Memorandum of Conversation1



  • European Security (Part II of II)


  • Adam Rapacki, Foreign Minister of the Polish People’s Republic
  • Jozef Winiewicz, Deputy Foreign Minister
  • Tadeusz Strulak, Polish Foreign Ministry
  • The Secretary
  • Thomas Niles (notetaker)
  • Cyril Muromcew (interpreter)

After a lengthy discussion of Viet Nam (separate Memcon),2 Rapacki said that he would like to discuss the question of European security. [Page 342] He referred to recent press articles which argued that the reduction of the U.S. presence in Europe “to unknown limits” as a result of events in Southeast Asia would be welcomed by the Socialist countries. According to Rapacki, the writers of these articles must feel that the Socialist countries are “politically naive” and he stated that Poland is interested in “constructive” United States influence in promoting the peaceful development of Europe. He asked, rhetorically, how long the European situation could remain isolated from the world-wide trend toward increasing tensions. He observed that the relatively calm conditions in Europe were deceptive and could not last. According to Rapacki, the Southeast Asian situation could well have an adverse effect on conditions in Europe and, furthermore, none of the real dangers for European stability had been removed. In this regard, Rapacki repeated the traditional Polish charge that revanchist elements in the FRG are gaining strength and are showing an increasing desire for nuclear weapons to use in pressuring the “German Democratic Republic” and forcing a revision of European frontiers. In his only comment during the meeting, Winiewicz observed that the FRG wishes to “swallow” the “GDR.” Rapacki stated that collective security measures are necessary to avert the danger posed by the FRG and the United States has a role to play in these efforts.

Rapacki referred to Poland’s 1964 proposal for a European Security Conference and said that intensive contacts with countries in both Eastern and Western Europe had led to some progress toward holding such a Conference. According to Rapacki, the Europeans generally agree that a Conference would be useful, but he acknowledged that much preparatory work was necessary. In his view, the Conference would consider the basic question of guaranteeing the security of individual states. With this obstacle out of the way, increased economic cooperation among European states would develop naturally. Political questions would be taken up only at the end of the process of normalization. Rapacki stressed the importance of European and world-wide non-proliferation agreements in ensuring peace. He mentioned the problem of NATO consultation on nuclear weapons and said that Poland was particularly concerned that these consultations should not lead to giving non-nuclear powers a voice in the use of nuclear weapons. He also emphasized Poland’s interest in the reduction of conventional forces and suggested that a collective renunciation of the use of force in changing the status quo would be useful.

In reply, the Secretary stressed that the United States was “utterly and completely” opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He cited our refusal to assist the French nuclear weapons program, with its consequences for US-French relations, as proof of our determination not to transfer nuclear weapons or technology. The Secretary pointed out, however, that the Warsaw Pact could not have a seat at the NATO table [Page 343] with a veto over NATO matters. When Rapacki expressed surprise at this statement, the Secretary said that some of Gromyko’s objections to NATO procedures appeared to require a veto over NATO decisions.

The Secretary said that the United States welcomed increased East-West contacts and informed Rapacki that the Administration planned to reintroduce the East-West trade bill early in 1967. He observed that the question of holding a European Security Conference was well worth discussing and stressed that the United States must be present when the great political problems of Central Europe are discussed. Rapacki asked whether the United States was really interested in these problems and said that our lack of interest in the Polish proposal for a Conference indicated that we were not. The Secretary pointed to our involvement in two world wars which originated in Central Europe as proof of our interest. He said that extensive preparations were required before a European Security Conference could be held since a conference which fails is worse than no conference.

The Secretary expressed an interest in discussing this and other questions with Rapacki if time permitted before his return to Poland. Rapacki said that he planned to remain in New York through October 4 or 5 but that Winiewicz planned to stay somewhat longer.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Poland, Memos, Vol. 2. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Niles and approved in S on October 4. The meeting was held at USUN.
  2. A copy of this memorandum of conversation is in Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S.