130. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Comments of Polish Officials regarding Harmel Report and other matters


  • His Excellency Jerzy Michalowski, Polish Ambassador
  • Mr. Zdzislaw Szewczyk, Polish Counselor
  • Mr. Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Acting Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
[Page 359]

I saw the Ambassador and Szewczyk the evening of December 13 at a dinner at Szewczyk’s home and had the opportunity to talk with both of them at some length. I also saw Ambassador Michalowski at the White House luncheon on December 14.

Harmel Report2

The Ambassador and Szewczyk were interested in the outcome of the NATO meeting at Brussels, particularly that part of the meeting which concerned the Harmel Report. They pressed me for details regarding it and for my views as to the significance of the Report. I provided an appropriate summary of the Report’s conclusions, noting that one of the areas highlighted by the Report, concerning the future work of the Alliance, had to do with European security and a study of steps which could be taken in the direction of East-West reconciliation.

The Ambassador remarked that the Belgian Foreign Minister had discussed his ideas on these subjects with Rapacki recently and that the Poles were very much interested in them.

In response to the Ambassador’s questions, I said that any committee set up by NATO to consider European security matters would be “open ended” and designed to study the problem and come up with recommendations for possible action; I did not anticipate that there would be any sweeping proposals for over-all negotiations on European security and that it seemed more likely that if anything was possible it would be in the form of small steps which would contribute toward reducing tensions.

I thought, for example, that one of the most promising areas for action seemed to be the idea of renunciation of force declarations. The FRG seemed to be quite interested in this idea, but the reaction of some of her neighbors to the East did not seem very forthcoming. The Ambassador agreed that renunciation of force declarations could be useful, although it was important that they also include the GDR in some way which would not be discriminatory. He was not specific with regard to how the GDR should be brought into the renunciation of force package and did not indicate any conditions from the Polish side.

I also discussed with the Ambassador and Szewczyk the general question of mutual force reductions in Europe. We covered generally familiar ground and they did not raise any new points.

FRG-Polish Relations

I talked at some length with Szewczyk on this subject, saying that I regretted the apparent Polish rigidity in this regard. Szewczyk commented [Page 360] that Poland was certainly not opposed to improving relations with the FRG but that it would be impossible to contemplate diplomatic relations so long as the FRG proclaimed the theory that it was the only entity qualified to speak for the German people. This was simply unacceptable to Poland, which had relations with the GDR. Szewczyk passed over rather lightly the Oder-Neisse problem and seemed primarily concerned about the FRG’s claim to be the sole voice of Germany. I noted that Romania did not seem to have similar preoccupations and he acknowledged, somewhat ruefully, that Romania’s views on the subject differed from those of Poland.

Szewczyk added that, in fact, he did not see much urgency, from the Polish standpoint, in establishing diplomatic relations with the FRG, since he did not feel this would bring many advantages which Poland did not already enjoy. For example, Polish-FRG trade is increasing every year and cultural exchange and tourism is also on the upgrade.


The Ambassador was interested in possible moves by the United States on Viet-Nam in the UN. I said that this question was still under study and I did not know what the outcome would be. He observed that, in his view, any consideration of Viet-Nam in the UN would not produce an outcome favorable to the United States. It was certain, he felt, that the only resolution which could come from UN consideration would be one recommending immediate and indefinite cessation of the bombing.

When I mentioned that there might possibly be some attractiveness to considering negotiations in the framework of a renewed Geneva Conference, the Ambassador said that this could only be feasible if agreement had been reached in advance by the US and the principal interested parties. If this were not the case, a reconvened Geneva Conference would simply be a shambles in which the intransigent views of the Chinese would predominate.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 17 POL–US. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Stoessel on December 16.
  2. For text of the Harmel Report, “Future Tasks of the Alliance,” see Department of State Bulletin, January 6, 1968, pp. 50–52.