257. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

1907. Eyes only Secretary. Believe that before long I should have some idea of what would in US view constitute acceptable basis for negotiations on Berlin problem. Suggest what I should try to work toward could be something along following lines: Soviets know our thinking on problem of access and would be prepared to see whether some arrangement for international control of Autobahn could be worked out provided satisfactory arrangement reached on status West Berlin. We know Soviet thinking on status West Berlin and would be prepared to see how far we could go to meet Soviet preoccupations (it being understood that we are unwilling renounce our presence and occupation rights) if satisfactory access arrangements worked out. We are aware of Soviet concern with other questions and willing discuss them but outcome would depend upon nature arrangements regarding Berlin. On this basis we prepared arrange for formal negotiations.

On status West Berlin believe that if eventual negotiations are to be successful it would be absolutely essential that we at least be prepared agree to prohibition on West Berlin becoming part of West Germany. In this connection I am troubled by para 19 (b) of Annex 3 to Working Group report. While might be desirable to avoid giving Soviets propaganda advantage of being able say their basic idea accepted, it would seem to me far more important for us to win on substance and let them have short lived victory in appearance. What I have in mind is that if occupation rights and presence of Western troops preserved, and if West Berlin free to make arrangements with West Germany along present lines, including application West German laws, provided West [Page 732] Berlin not incorporated in FRG, it would be small price to pay to call such an arrangement a “free city” or something very similar.

I believe Soviets will have in mind both long and short-range aspects of any settlement of Berlin question and in this connection will wish avoid any provisions which would preclude arrangements which they may eventually hope achieve in Europe as a whole. For example, one of their long-range objectives is to get US troops out of Europe, particularly should large-scale disarmament be achieved. In this connection they would desire avoid language in any agreement which would make continued presence of Allied troops in Berlin virtually mandatory.

Thompson
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/1-962. Secret.