45. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Reply to the Soviet Aide-mémoire of June 4, 1961, on Berlin


  • The Secretary of State
  • Herve Alphand, French Ambassador
  • Foy D. Kohler, Assistant Secretary of State
  • Claude Lebel, Minister of French Embassy
  • Jean-Claude Winckler, Counselor of French Embassy
  • William R. Tyler, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

The Ambassador said he had received a message from Foreign Minister Couve de Murville instructing him to inform the Secretary that in the course of his recent conversation with Gromyko in Geneva, the latter informed him from Khrushchev personally that the substance of the aide-mémoire of June 4 on Berlin was intended to apply to the French and UK Governments as well as to that of the United States.2

In view of this, the French Government felt it would be desirable, in the interest of Western solidarity, for it, and the British also, to send a note to the Soviet Government. He said the British were being approached in London today on this matter. The Ambassador went on to say that his Government felt the three replies should be identical, or at least very similar. At the same time, the French Government felt that the reply should restrict itself entirely to statements of principle, and should not propose any course of action by the West or even hint at any initiative which it might take. He said that his Government felt that any suggestion at this time of going to the ICJ would weaken the public position of the West since it would imply a certain weakening of Western resolve.

In reply to the Ambassador’s question the Secretary said that we would be prepared to consider the idea of sending three replies to the Soviet aide-mémoire, but that it would be desirable that these be, if not identical, at least very nearly so. Mr. Kohler recalled that we considered it desirable to propose to the Soviets that we go to the ICJ, and that this should be borne in mind by the Ambassador in advising Paris of our willingness, in principle, to consider the idea of three replies, assuming the British were prepared to go along.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/6-2461. Secret. Drafted and initialed by Tyler and approved in S on June 29.
  2. Gromyko had informed Couve de Murville along these lines on June 16.