170. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Germany and Berlin

PARTICIPANTS

  • United States
    • The President
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. KohlerEUR
    • Mr. Akalovsky—D/P (interpreting)
  • U.S.S.R.
    • Foreign Minister Gromyko
    • Ambassador Menshikov
    • Mr. Semenov
    • Mr. Sukhodrev (interpreter)

The President opened the conversation by welcoming Mr. Gromyko back in Washington and by saying that he appreciated the fact that Mr. Gromyko and the Secretary had met on several occasions and had had useful talks. He said it was important to determine the meaning of the respective positions of the two sides. Statements by both sides had to be translated into the other language, and, at least in the beginning of [Page 469] the talks, it was never precise what each side exactly meant. The President said that he hoped that over the next few days the U.S. would consult with its Allies, just as Mr. Gromyko had indicated that the Soviet Union also had Allies and consulted with them. The talks could then perhaps be resumed in Moscow by Ambassador Thompson, who is now coming to Washington, but who would then return to Moscow in the hope to meet with Mr. Gromyko and perhaps Mr. Khrushchev. The President stressed that what was of interest to him in Mr. Gromyko’s talks with the Secretary was this question of definition. The U.S. is speaking of Western presence in Berlin, of its rights of access to that city, and of the viability of that city. On the other hand, the Soviet Union has been speaking about the freedom of West Berlin, of guaranteed access to that city, of respect for the sovereignty of the GDR, and of the general matter of frontiers. The problem now is to analyze with our Allies these words in more precise terms, so as to see what assurance there is that our present rights would be maintained and to get a clearer meaning of these terms freedom and guaranteed access. Thus, it would be helpful if Mr. Gromyko could say how the freedom of West Berlin would be guaranteed and how access could be assured jointly in a satisfactory manner. Likewise, it would be helpful if Mr. Gromyko could clarify what he means when he says that the U.S. should respect the sovereignty of the GDR.

Mr. Gromyko said that in view of the fact that he had something to say he would like first to inquire, for the purpose of orientation, how much time the President could allot for this meeting.

The President replied that he was free until six or seven, whatever was useful.

Mr. Gromyko then said that he had certain considerations to voice on the part of the Soviet Government in development of and in addition to the Soviet position as discussed in his talks with the Secretary. He said he wanted to state the Soviet position in principle as well as on the specific questions the President had touched upon. Reading from a prepared text, he went on to say that the U.S. Government and the President personally are aware of what guides the Soviet Government when it advocates a prompt solution of the question of a German peace treaty and of normalizing the West Berlin situation on the basis of such a treaty. As Mr. Khrushchev had told the President in Vienna, the Soviet Government is convinced that the fact that World War II had occurred cannot be escaped. That war had indeed taken place and the problems remaining after it require solution. Sixteen years have passed since the end of the war and the unsettled state of war causes increased tensions in Europe, and not only in Europe, but also throughout the world at large. This situation will remain unchanged until all participants in the World War II anti-Hitler coalition have recognized and formalized the results of [Page 470] World War II. The peoples of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. had fought shoulder to shoulder in the war and should now jointly write finis to World War II. The Soviet Government attaches great importance to the conclusion of a German peace treaty. If the U.S. does not find it possible to take part in a peace conference, the Soviet Union will call a peace conference and conclude a peace treaty without U.S. participation. However, Mr. Gromyko said, he wished to emphasize that the Soviet Government’s choice No. 1 is the conclusion of a joint treaty. At the same time, it does not wish the signing of a peace treaty with the GDR, without U.S. participation, to lead to an aggravation of its relations with U.S. and this also applies to the West Berlin problem. Therefore, as had been stressed in the conversations with the Secretary, the Soviet Government is prepared to work out jointly and before a peace treaty is signed the status for a free city of West Berlin and to reach an understanding on other questions relating to the normalization of the situation in West Berlin. The Soviet Government proceeds on the premise that such an understanding would be reflected in the peace treaty, which would have been signed between the U.S.S.R. and the GDR, or that it would be formalized in special documents appended to the peace treaty. These are the two alternative possibilities. Thus agreement with respect to West Berlin would acquire international authority from the standpoint of scope and would also acquire legal recognition on the part of the states which would have signed one or two peace treaties. The Soviet Government is concerned about finding common language with the states which had fought together in the World War II anti-Hitler coalition. Frequently the U.S. makes statements to the effect that any solution should not affect its or its Allies prestige. The Soviet Union is seeking such a solution, but it cannot injure its own prestige or that of its Allies.

Mr. Gromyko continued by saying that in the eyes of world public opinion both sides are deeply involved in this question of a German peace treaty. Therefore, the Soviet Government believes that the best thing to do is to see a way out of this situation on the basis of compromise. That is precisely the kind of solution the Soviet Government is now proposing. It is not difficult to see that a separate agreement on West Berlin would benefit the West more than the U.S.S.R. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union is prepared to have such a separate agreement, and is stating that quite formally.

The Soviet Government does not wish to follow the example of the U.S., where the latter had signed a peace treaty with Japan without the Soviet Union and counter to Soviet interests. At that time the U.S. simply signed the treaty and stated that Soviet rights were terminated. The U.S. disregarded Soviet interests and the Soviet Union was unilaterally deprived of its rights to which it was entitled on the basis of international agreements. Incidentally, the Japanese Peace Treaty is another example [Page 471] of the fact that a peace treaty means that there can be no occupation rights.

The President interjected at this point that Secretary Rusk was the only one present who had had to do with the Japanese Peace Treaty.

The Secretary, indicating his disagreement with Mr. Gromyko’s remarks, said this was a question which might take two hours to discuss with him.

Mr. Gromyko then referred to the question of the timing for the signing of a German peace treaty and said he wished to state that the Soviet Government sees no fatal date in this respect. This had been communicated by Mr. Khrushchev in his conversation with Mr. Spaak.2 If negotiations start all parties will be obliged to do their utmost to have the negotiations take place in the best possible atmosphere and lead to the best solution contributing to consolidation of peace. For its part, the Soviet Union would act in this manner. It is natural, however, that negotiations must not be artificially protracted. Nor should the solution of this problem be delayed.

Of course if the U.S. declines to participate in the signing of a German peace treaty, then in addition to the solution of the West Berlin problem an understanding would have to be reached on other questions important to peace and European security. Some such questions had been mentioned by the Secretary, but the Soviet Union had been placing particular stress on them. Mr. Gromyko clarified that what he had in mind was: 1) legal formalization of German borders as they now exist; and 2) non-transfer to the two Germanies of nuclear and rocket weapons, as well as prohibition of the manufacture of such weapons in the two states. Mr. Gromyko stated that the Soviet Government placed utmost emphasis on this question. As to the question of borders, states must take a clear-cut and unequivocal position on this question so as to deprive West German revanchists of any hope for possible revision of the borders. The Soviet Government sees no reason why the great powers should not make their position on the question of borders, including the border between West Germany and the GDR, absolutely clear and formal, whatever their attitude on the question of a peace treaty. As far as the question of preventing nuclear and rocket weapons from being transferred to, or manufactured by, the two German states, is concerned, it appears that the President’s proposal at the 16th General Assembly and the Secretary’s remarks on September 30—at the third meeting3—provide for a possibility of reaching an understanding on [Page 472] this problem. It is in the interests of both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. not to speak of the smaller states in Europe, to prevent the two Germanies from acquiring nuclear and rocket weapons.

Mr. Gromyko then said that the Soviet Union also hoped to meet with understanding on the part of the U.S. Government in other matters he had mentioned to the Secretary. He also expressed hope that the U.S. Government, like the Soviet Government, is serious with respect to these problems.

Mr. Gromyko continued that the Soviet Government believes that an agreement on a free city of West Berlin should provide for strict guarantees with regard to the observance of the city’s status and to non-interference in its internal affairs. He also said that he was not sure that the West, including the U.S., completely and accurately understood the Soviet position in this matter. Therefore, he wished to reiterate that the Soviet Government had always advocated the strictest guarantees to ensure the status of a free city of West Berlin. The U.S. Government is aware of the Soviet proposals concerning guarantees, namely, that token contingents of the Four Powers—the U.S.S.R., the U.S., France, and the U.K.—be stationed in West Berlin. In proposing a solution of this problem on the basis of stationing token contingents, the Soviet Union is making that suggestion, not on the basis that such contingents would constitute a military factor, but as a political solution of the problem. Mr. Khrushchev had talked about this aspect of the problem in his meeting with the President in Vienna. Such a political solution should be acceptable to both sides as a way out and it would not affect U.S. prestige. Other conceivable alternatives could be the stationing in West Berlin of neutral troops or of UN troops.

Mr. Gromyko then said that in view of the desire expressed by the Western powers that these guarantees be given not only under a peace treaty, but should be specifically reinforced by the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union is prepared to assume such responsibility. Of course, that should not prejudice the rights of the GDR and should not be detrimental to the interests of any country, be it a Soviet or U.S. Ally. Taking this into account, the Soviet Government believes that the objective of ensuring the rights and the interests of a free city of West Berlin would be best served by a status guaranteed by the four great powers, i.e., by stationing specified contingents of troops of the Four Powers in West Berlin. Naturally, such contingents would be stationed there for a specified period of time. The Soviet Government believes that this is the best solution. In spite of its efforts the Soviet Government has been unable to find another, better solution. The Soviet Government has weighed the situation and has come to the conclusion that this solution is the best one possible. If Four Power contingents are stationed in Berlin and if there is agreement on this question, then the U.S.S.R. would have the same role [Page 473] of guarantor as the Western powers. Such a solution would be understood both by U.S. Allies and by Soviet Allies. It would not prejudice the interests of the U.S., the U.S.S.R., or their respective Allies, including the GDR. Of course, token contingents should not be regarded as occupation troops and should not carry out any occupation functions.

Turning to the question of access, Mr. Gromyko stated that the Soviet Government does not intend to establish any restrictions on West Berlin’s ties with the outside world or on access to West Berlin—by land, water, and air—for any outside state. The only thing the Soviet Union proposes is that the procedure for the exercise of such ties and the use of communications running through the GDR be the same as that applied in any other state, whether socialist or capitalist. There should be no discrimination against the GDR. Even today most passenger and commercial freight traffic to and from West Berlin runs by agreement with the GDR and this creates no difficulties for or interference with West Berlin’s ties with the outside world.

Mr. Gromyko then said he wished to state what the Soviet Union could not agree to. First, the Soviet Union could not agree to any claims tendered by the FRG to West Berlin. Some West German figures have been making statements to that effect, but such statements are totally unfounded and the Soviet Union rejects them resolutely. The Soviet Union is firmly convinced that such claims have no legal grounds and that West Germany has no relation to West Berlin. Since West Germany has no legal relation to West Berlin, all ties between the FRG and West Berlin must be on the same basis as with any other sovereign state, whether such state is recognized de jure or de facto or not at all.

Referring to his talks with the Secretary, Mr. Gromyko then said that it appeared that the U.S. Government believed the Soviet proposals to provide too narrow a framework for negotiations and would wish that framework to be expanded through inclusion of certain questions pertaining to European security. The Soviet Government could agree to this, but it is not clear as to what questions, apart from a German peace treaty, the U.S. would like to consider in negotiations. True, the Secretary had made hints as to the general trend in which the U.S. believed our thinking should go, but no specific questions had been listed or formulated. On its part, the Soviet Government could name several questions aimed at strengthening European security. First, a non-aggression pact between NATO and Warsaw Pact countries could be meaningfully discussed. It is quite clear that so long as relations between the two opposing military groupings are not channeled into a calm river bed, there can be no strengthening of European security. Secondly, it would be of great significance, for the cause of an international détente, if an understanding were reached to eliminate foreign military bases on the soil of other states. Third, withdrawal or at least reduction of foreign troops [Page 474] stationed in the territories of NATO and Warsaw Pact countries. Agreement on this question would be regarded as a proof of the desire of these countries to establish a peace-time situation in Europe. Fourth, it would be very useful for the purpose of strengthening European security if, to start, agreement could be reached on an outline for a withdrawal of foreign troops from foreign territories by stages. Fifth, European security would be protected best of all from aggression if German militarism were prevented from developing, with Western assistance, a powerful army equipped with modern weapons. Of course under the present conditions the GDR must also strengthen its forces to ensure its security. It would be far more useful for the cause of peace if the FRG and the GDR were to have only militia armed with small arms for the purpose of maintaining internal order. Sixth, the Soviet Government believes that it would be useful to delineate a geographic zone in Europe, including both German states, in which no state would be permitted to deploy or manufacture nuclear and rocket weapons. The proposal of the Polish Government on this subject is well known, but until this day our two Governments have not discussed this question seriously. The zone would include the Polish People’s Republic, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the GDR, and the FRG. The Soviet Government firmly believes that agreement on this question would have the most positive effect not only in Europe but also throughout the world. Thus life itself brings up a number of questions related to European security, and the Soviet Government advocates their promptest solution. However, it would be incorrect to tie all these questions in one knot or package, and it was this point, Mr. Gromyko said, that he had tried to impress on the Secretary. The Soviet Government believes that it would be better to solve these questions in stages, with main attention being given to the questions that are most important and which are capable of being resolved without delay. Such a question is that of writing finis to World War II by signing a German peace treaty and settling on that basis the status of West Berlin. Then, at the second stage, other questions could be resolved. This is the sequence the Soviet Government believes to be proper. However, if the West cannot accept such a sequence and insists on an inter-related discussion of the German problem and the questions of European security, the Soviet Union could agree to a discussion of a German peace treaty and of such European security problems as lend themselves to a prompt solution, namely: 1) conclusion of a non-aggression pact between NATO and Warsaw Pact members; and 2) agreement to prevent transfer to both Germanies of nuclear and rocket weapons and manufacture of such weapons in the FRG and the GDR. It is quite evident that it would be much more difficult to reach agreement on other issues related to European security. Those issues are more involved and would require more time, and the Soviet Government [Page 475] firmly believes they should not be linked to the question of a German peace treaty and of normalizing the situation of West Berlin on the basis of such a treaty.

Mr. Gromyko then turned to the question of the future course with regard to the exchange of views and to negotiations. He noted that as of now a bi-lateral exchange of views between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. is taking place. However, the Soviet Union does not object in principle to a Four-Power conference, which would consider the question of a German peace treaty and normalization on that basis of the West Berlin situation, as well as questions of European security. At the same time, however, the Soviet Union believes that the bi-lateral exchange of views between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., which has already begun, is extremely useful. Mr. Gromyko then said he understood the President to say that he wished this bi-lateral exchange of views to continue. If this understanding is correct, then the President’s wish corresponds to the desires of the Soviet Government and of Mr. Khrushchev personally.

Mr. Gromyko concluded by saying that by concluding a German peace treaty, whether on the basis of joint action or of the signing of a peace treaty with the GDR only by certain states, including the U.S.S.R., the Soviet Union wishes to clear the road for an improvement in U.S.-U.S.S.R. relations and for peaceful co-existence between states irrespective of their social systems. He said that on behalf of the Soviet Government and of Mr. Khrushchev personally he wished to express the hope that the U.S. and the U.S.S.R would succeed, by joint effort, in overcoming in the interest of peace the existing difficulties and in resolving the questions which had been brought about by life itself and which are preoccupying the peoples of the U.S., of the U.S.S.R., of their Allies, and throughout the world. He said he had attempted to clarify the general Soviet position on the question of a German peace treaty and also to reply to specific questions that the President had raised. He said he did not know what the President’s reaction would be and reiterated that he had attempted to cover the points the President had referred to at the beginning of the conversation.

The President thanked Mr. Gromyko for outlining his views and stated that as far as future course was concerned he believed bi-lateral discussions would be valuable from the standpoint of our attempting to secure precise definitions of U.S. and Soviet positions. Mr. Gromyko had clarified the views of the Soviet Government today and after we have considered this statement and after Ambassador Thompson returns to Moscow, we could proceed with bi-lateral discussions. Then we could continue on a quadripartite basis because the U.K. and the French are involved in this matter. Mr. Gromyko had said that the Soviet Government had Allies whose interests are involved. The President expressed appreciation for Mr. Gromyko’s reference to “compromise” [Page 476] and said that he understood that this word was the same in both Russian and English. However, the meaning of the word in Latin is that both sides are first, i.e., that neither side is lessened by agreement. It is in this spirit that the U.S. approaches the U.S.S.R. The President then said that he wished to say how he understood the Soviet proposal. First, our view on the Berlin question is that as a result of agreements reached at the end of World War II we have a status in Berlin, a status which has been exercised for the most part in West Berlin, and with that status go our rights of access. If both sides should come to agreement—and, the President said, he hoped they would—then the U.S. would wish to make sure that its position is not lessened. On the contrary, it would hope that both sides would come out with improved positions and that they would emerge from that agreement on the basis of equality. This is what we regard as a compromise. The President went on to say that what made it difficult for him to believe that the Soviet proposal was a compromise was Mr. Gromyko’s statement that, while the Soviet Union was willing to protect the status of West Berlin in an agreement, in the event that the U.S. did not sign a peace treaty, it proposed that it be done by stationing Soviet troops on an equal basis with Western troops, not in East Berlin, but in West Berlin, which is our responsibility. Thus after turning over East Berlin to East Germany, the Soviet Union wishes to acquire equal status in West Berlin. Furthermore, the Soviet Union proposes that the stationing of these token contingents be only for a certain period of time. So, as a result of such a “compromise” U.S. position would be diminished because: 1) our rights would be negotiated rights, and what is more serious and important; 2) we would share our rights in West Berlin with the Soviet Union; and 3) our rights would be there only for a limited period of time. Thus, at some distance there would have to be new negotiations for new rights. In the light of all this, our rights would be lessened rather than improved. Nothing in the Soviet proposal suggests that our access would be strengthened and would not be exposed to hazards and dangers.

The President then stated that, as he understood these “concessions,” the Soviet Union seemed to be prepared to make them to us in return for our willingness to make at least a decision on the following questions: 1) acceptance of the boundaries of the two Germanies, i.e., the Eastern boundary and the boundary between the two zones; thus, this would establish in effect (a) a line for all of Germany on a basis that is different from what we had adhered to so far; in other words, that would be a concession on our part; and (b) respect for the division between the zones, a degree of status of the two Germanies, and the concept of the sovereignty of East Germany; 2) abandonment by West Germany of all claims to East Germany, which is tantamount to abandonment of the concept of a reunited or unified Germany. In addition, [Page 477] Mr. Gromyko had mentioned the question of nuclear weapons, etc. Thus at least three changes are required in the concepts the U.S. has been holding so far. The President stressed that in his view this was not a compromise, but rather meant trading an apple for an orchard. It would result in a decline of our position in West Berlin and would require our acceptance of other changes which are in the interest of the U.S.S.R. The Soviet Union wishes us to accept all this without accepting on its part our rights and interests. That, the President stressed, would be not a compromise but a retreat.

The President then observed that of course it would be impossible to settle this matter this afternoon. However, it is important that we discuss these matters with our Allies, so that Ambassador Thompson could then have a further exchange of views. The President said he recognized, and he was sure Mr. Gromyko recognized too, that there was no desire to protract these discussions month after month. We should move with dispatch and attempt to obtain the most precise definitions we can as to what kind of agreement and what kind of guarantees are being talked about.

Referring to Mr. Gromyko’s remark that the Soviet Union is prepared to guarantee the status of West Berlin if agreement is reached on such status, the President said that the stationing of token Soviet troops is not a militarily vital issue; what we are interested in is the freedom of West Berlin. This is not a military matter and Berlin is not a military outpost. The President then reiterated his belief that bi-lateral discussions are important and said that a number of questions could be clarified in the course of such discussions, e.g., how access to Berlin could be guaranteed more satisfactorily than it is today, and noted that perhaps Soviet interests could also be advanced in certain areas. If bi-lateral discussions prove to be useful, and the U.S. hopes that they will be, we could then move to a Four-Power discussion so that eventually all of them could express their views at the same time.

Mr. Gromyko replied that he wanted to comment on what the President had said. He stated that the Soviet Government believed the proposals he had outlined to the President to be a compromise acceptable to both sides. These proposals are a way out for both sides and they do not infringe upon their prestige. Mr. Gromyko reiterated that the Soviet Government did not believe these proposals affected U.S. prestige by one iota. Nor did they affect the prestige of the U.S.S.R., which—as Mr. Khrushchev had stated in Vienna—does not need West Berlin.

Mr. Gromyko went on to say that on the basis of repeated statements by the U.S. and the other Western powers, it appeared that the Western powers were primarily interested in preserving the existing social system in West Berlin, or what the West called freedom of that city, and also in preserving freedom of access to West Berlin. The Soviet Government [Page 478] has given a positive reply on both of these important issues. Therefore it is difficult to understand why the U.S. or the other Western powers should not be satisfied. The Soviet Government has given a positive reply with respect to guarantees concerning the status of the free city of West Berlin, i.e., preservation of the existing social system or, to use Western terminology, the freedom of that city. As to access, the Soviet Union is prepared to reach agreement on freedom of access by land, water, and air. Thus the Soviet Union is prepared to reach an understanding on these two cardinal points.

The President said he appreciated this and noted that this was why definitions were important. Mr. Gromyko had said that the Soviet Government is prepared to guarantee the freedom of West Berlin and free access to that city. These are important points and if this is our objective, then the problem is to determine the exact meaning of how we propose to achieve it. Referring again to the question of guarantees, the President said that the stationing of Soviet troops in West Berlin was not a military or political necessity. As to guarantees with respect to access, that should be explored further in later discussions. Thus if our objective is the same and if we recognize that West Berlin is in an extraordinary geographic position, it is very important to have further, more detailed discussions.

The President then remarked that he had to leave soon for the State dinner given by the President of Sudan. However, he wished to make a few comments on the problem of Laos. (See separate memorandum of conversation.)4

Mr. Gromyko referred to the President’s statement to the effect that he believed the U.S. would lose in three areas as a result of the Soviet proposal on Berlin. Mr. Gromyko said that such an appraisal was not correct and that the Soviet Union was deeply convinced that the U.S. would lose nothing.

The President interjected that he had actually listed five points on which our position would be changed and lessened if we accepted the Soviet proposal. These points are: 1) time limit on our rights; 2) stationing of Soviet troops in West Berlin; 3) recognition of Germany’s frontiers; 4) recognition of the division between East and West Germany; and 5) abandonment by West Germany of the concept of a united Germany. This, the President stated, caused concern to us.

Mr. Gromyko went on to say that on the two points the Western powers had always emphasized the Soviet Government had given a positive reply, namely, on the question of: 1) guarantees with respect to the status of West Berlin and to the social system elected by the population [Page 479] of that city; and 2) guaranteed access. This is a positive reply which should be appreciated, but the President failed to pay due attention to it.

As to the question of Soviet token contingents, Mr. Gromyko said this was a way out of the problem. It had been the U.S. which had raised the question of Soviet guarantees with respect to the freedom of West Berlin, and this is a solution of that problem. The President had said that no military factor was involved in this matter and the Soviet Union had said the same. The presence of token contingents from the Four Powers is a political solution and it is a way for the Soviet Union to take responsibility on its shoulders. As to the question of time limit (on a West Berlin arrangement), Mr. Gromyko stated that if agreement could be reached now on the general status of West Berlin and on access to that city, then he believed that the great powers, including the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., would be able to reach agreement in the future as well. Referring to the question of borders, Mr. Gromyko said that the Soviet Union believed our respective positions on this question, to which the Soviet Government attaches great significance, to be close. The Soviet Government believes that it should not be difficult to reach an understanding on this problem.

The President stated there was no need to say that the difficulty lay in the geographic location of that city. Both President Eisenhower and Mr. Khrushchev had called this situation abnormal, but neither Mr. Khrushchev nor he, President Kennedy, had made the decision on this matter in 1945. The erection of the wall in Berlin has caused alarm in the city and, therefore, the question is how we can ensure the viability of West Berlin with all the problems and tensions surrounding it and how we can make sure that access to that city will be free. If the U.S. is to participate in an agreement, it believes it important that there be real guarantees so that the city will not become a shell in three or four months. The President expressed the hope that both sides were in agreement on this question of freedoms. He said that now we should see how this objective could be achieved and then we could examine the question of boundaries.

At the end of the conversation Mr. Gromyko sought to speak alone with the President, and the two went out on the terrace for about ten minutes. After Gromyko’s departure the President reported that their private conversation had not reflected anything substantially different on either side than what had been said at the meeting. Gromyko had taken the line of stressing the importance of agreement between the United States and the U.S.S.R., reiterating his version of the Soviet “concessions” designed to facilitate this result. The President had replied also along the lines of his previous remarks, emphasizing that the Soviet Government could not expect the United States to come to an understanding which would obviously be regarded as a major setback. In this [Page 480] connection he cited particularly the unacceptability of the Soviet proposal to station “token” Soviet forces in West Berlin.

The meeting ended at 7:00 P.M.5

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, USSR, Gromyko Talks, Vol. III. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Akalovsky. The meeting was held at the White House. In addition to an unsigned memorandum, Sorensen, Bohlen, and Rostow all wrote memoranda, dated October 6, with talking points for this conversation. (Ibid.)
  2. Spaak visited Moscow on September 19.
  3. For a report on the third Rusk-Gromyko conversation, see Document 164.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. XXIV, Document 199.
  5. In a summary of this conversation for the Embassy in Paris, the Department of State reported that the first round of exchanges with the Soviet Union was ended, and suggested that while some aspects of the bases for negotiation seemed clearer and better, others were worse. (Telegram 2029; Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/10-861) On the same day Kohler, on behalf of Secretary Rusk, briefed the Quadripartite Ambassadorial Group along similar lines and concluded that the West had not yet reached a negotiating position and that further contact with the Soviet Union was necessary to explore the situation further. (Telegram 970 to Bonn, October 8; ibid., 762.0221/10-861)