January 13, 1958
T. Gede, 'Record of a Subsequent (2) Breakfast on Jan. 13, 1958'
This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)
[after January 13], record by the ambassador in Moscow
of talks in the diplomatic corps on disarmament issues
of a subsequent (2) breakfast on Jan. 13, 195828
Table 1 –
Ambassador of France
Table 2 –
Ambassador of India
Ambassador of Belgium
Ambassador of Iceland
Ambassador of Austria
Ambassador of Turkey
Ambassador of Greece
Chargé d’Affaires of Iran
Ambassador of Holland
A total of 10
1) Main topic of talks:
Bulganin’s letters and Soviet government proposals regarding international détente.
Most ambassadors of capitalist countries were unaware of the full scope of the operation, nor did they know the full list of countries where the letters were sent, nor the contents of letters published in Pravda. For example, the Greek ambassador did not know the context of the letter addressed to the Greek prime minister, as it is pending translation, and no one in his embassy was able to translate such a long letter.
They decided that this issue is v. serious and can no longer be neglected. If governments hide behind, [such slogans as] “it’s propaganda”, that “it’s nothing new”, they are making a mistake.
The Austrian ambassador said that after the first wave of letters were sent, when asked what if the answer were 'no', Gromyko replied: '”then we shall send proposal again and keep [sending them] until we come to terms.”
The French ambassador said that the letters make it crystal clear that the Soviet Union refuses to engage in talks at a level where the US is represented by Dulles or any of his subordinates.
When I asked, Dejean admitted that such position of the USSR cannot be considered right. I tried to get Dejean to take a position on the substance of the Soviet proposal, and he tried, to make do by referring to prime minister Gaillard’s statement to the effect that the conference could take part only after it has been prepared by foreign ministers. I corrected him that as far as I knew, prime minister Gaillard spoke of preparation by foreign ministers or via diplomatic channels. Dejean confirmed and added that perhaps it would be easier to prepare it via diplomatic channels, because it is evident that Dulles is not favor of international détente.
The Belgian and the Frenchman analyzed the list of names for the top-level conference proposed by the Soviet Union from 15 NATO and 8 Warsaw Pact countries, stressing that out of the 6 neutral countries, some could be regarded as rather leaning toward the West. Even the 13:14 ratio is advantageous for the West.
I stressed that the Soviet position is very flexible, and that after all they are prepared to talk in a different, smaller make-up, but only in one that did not repeat the Disarmament Subcommission ratio of 4:1. Such a make-up predetermines a negative outcome of talks in advance. They said I was right.
2) We also discussed the Rapacki Plan. The Western colleagues rather avoided this subject, and only the Austrian ambassador kept the conversation going. When asked by one of the ambassadors what would it bring specifically, I said that it has a political significance, that there would be no nuclear weapons in the heart of Europe, that in Germany, which was a trouble spot, there would not be [stationed] the most dangerous weapon that could be a threat to us, and France, and Belgium, and Holland, and perhaps even Austria (we have no idea what the situation would be several years later, when West Germany armed with nuclear weapons would wish to speak a different language), and – finally – it is important as the first step, which would certainly contribute to creating a relaxing atmosphere.
The Austrian ambassador added that after a peace treaty with Austria was signed in 1955, it seemed that it would be the first step and others would follow. Unfortunately this did not happen.
I replied that the Soviet Union is not to blame for that.
Speaking of control connected with the Rapacki Plan, I said that it is certainly an important point, but first one needs to accept a principle first and then specify the details. In my opinion this is an important point because certain forms of control with respect to the nuclear-free zone could be an example and model that provides experience for forms of overall disarmament control.
3) Rather between themselves they spoke of replies to the early Bulganin letters of December, about what is the reply deadline for a given country, without discussing the substance of the reply.
4) They talked about the great importance of petroleum problems. The issue of Middle East oil, according to ambassadors of France, Belgium and Austria, determines the problems of the Middle East.
5) They also talked about airline competition, The Greek ambassador, when asked why they do not allow cross flights (with a stopover in Athens) of our and Czech airplanes en route to the Middle East, he replied that the refusal is not political, but stems from the fact that their airlines also serve the Middle East and they cannot accept that we or the Czechs their passengers.
The Belgian ambassador added that a similar problem arose with their own SABENA airline, which was to fly via Prague to Cairo. The Czechs refused to have their air-planes take passengers from Prague to Cairo.
6) Apart from that, they talked about art exhibitions (they praised the paintings exhibition at the Pushkin museum, S. Gerasimov’s at Manezh Square, the Ermitazh in Leningrad), theater, sport, etc.
Generally, the atmosphere was pleasant. The breakfast lasted 2.5 hours.
The ambassadors of Romania and Albania, who had been scheduled to come, cancelled at the last moment, quoting v. important matters [to attend to]. CSR ambassador also said that he had no time. In a telephone conversation before breakfast I told him that “I would find myself in an awkward position if I were to take part alone (for the second time already) in absence of ambassadors of people’s democracies. They did ask me, however, to be present, because it would not be good if we were to leave the capitalists on their own.
There has been some progress in terms of organization. The host was the Austrian ambassador sitting in for the absent ambassador of Ceylon.
AMSZ, z. 7, w. 2, t. 14
28 In the cover letter to the record the ambassador in Moscow informed: “From December ’57, on the initiative of the ambassadors of Ceylon and Austria, social gatherings are held (breakfast at the 'Praga' restaurant) where all the ambassadors are invited (including the KDLs [people’s democracies]). (The food everybody pays for oneself). […] At the first [meeting] 13 ambassadors were present, including [two] from the KDLs: CSR and me.''
Record of talks between several ambassadors, in which they discuss the Rapacki Plan and Bulganin's letters.
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