Cabinet Secretaries' notebooks (CAB 195/18): Visit to Moscow
Visit to Moscow
Sorry to have given so little information. But conditions in Moscow. Feeling enhanced by false bonhomie.
V. formidable people. Discipline pride & patriotism of old Russia (Army) - coupled with new religion of Communism. But K. prs. realises his opportunity to consolidate peaceful position.
But they are determined
i) roll-back policy shall fail & satellites be retained in their grip.
ii) Berlin be resolved - prink our salient.
iii) not to have re-unification of G. - & can't see why we pretend to want it.
iv) to have no war. They no longer believe (because of nuclear) tht. old Marxist doctrine of military clash betwn. Commn. & capitalism is out-of-date. Competitive co-existence instead.
In fact, they haven't a bad case on Berlin - law or common-sense. They wd. force issue, short of major war.
Under superficial brashness, lack of confidence of nouveaux riches.
Fortunate that K.'s speech gave us chance to indicate firmness of W. position, on basis that we had to answer K. Then they returned to courteous attitude.
Believe now we must look, not to revolt by satellites (which cd. easily be repressed), but to change in R. itself due to higher standards of living and more liberal education.
Admiration for P.M.'s handling of diff. situation. Impact - e.g. on Embassy staff at time of television.
Sunday. Talk on G. They developed their case re cancer in midst of E. Germany. Inconclusive. After lunch, disarmament - wh. went better. They were interested in our ideas (right of inspn. : cut-off : limitn. of forces in agreed area).
Monday. Anglo-Soviet ques. Embassy dinner : atmosphere good. No doubt that they all take their line from K.
Tuesday. Dubna. Gromyko in car was relaxed & ready to discuss our ideas. But during that day K.'s speech & his disclosures to Peace Council (2 hrs). Embassy reception : good atmosphere : K. told Press he was going to Kiev.
Wednesday. We put W. case on Berlin : indicated risk of a clash, unless negotiation. K. inflexible, but not ill-tempered.
Thursday. K. made his outburst against our "threats" : referred to Suez, and to Strang's mission in '39. P.M. declined to answer him. He then said he wasn't coming to Kiev & Mikoyan was not coming to Leningrad. Friday evening I told Kuznetsov we wd. like mtg. on substance on Mon. He rang K. at once & secured his agreement. I also told Kuznetsov we wdn't take this behaviour. Then en route to Leningrad he produced story re tooth (English drill) & friendly approach. Then Mikoyan turned up in Leningrad.
Sunday : talk with Gromyko. And much civility.
Monday : we really came to terms in courteous interchange. Germany. Their concessions - enough for us to recognise E. Germany de facto : or discuss frontiers thro' 3rd. party. Ready for solution wh. wd. save face for both sides. They are resolved to stand [Note : advance copy Sunday] on existg. line (2 Germanies) and to resolve Berlin posn. They are ready for each G. to remain in its Alliance. Confederation. In short, status quo & soln. of Berlin.
Procedure. They want Sumit - end/April. If West not ready, For. Ministers mtg end-April with limit of 2-3 months. They are not wedded to May 27 as date for solution. If Allies don't provoke crisis, we have more time.
Tests. Suspicion of espionage : prob. genuine - and, in reln. to U.S., prs. well-founded.
(i) K. made it clear tht. no Mtg. cd. decide unless he was there. And I accept that : he decides.
(ii) K. wd. prefer divided G., even military on both sides - safer if tied up in Alliance. (He didn't say so in terms).
Hope you won't rush to U.S. Wd. upset France & G.
Wd. have bn. better to go to U.S. first. For they have to be got to greater flexibility - and to exert the pressure on F. & G. But they wd. resent change of plan. Must therefore adhere to p'mme : & go to U.S. on Tuesday fortnight : beginning talks with U.S. on Thursday. (Wed. for discn. with Ambassador).
Dash to W'ton wd. also give world opinion excessive impn. of crisis.
Real risk is gt. diplomatic defeat when our bluff is called - for West won't fight on this issue when it comes to the point.
On other hand, if we press U.S. to compromise, we may break the Alliance. - & expose ourselves to charge of Munich-ism.
We must somehow make U.S. believe they thought of all this themselves.
Wd. like another discussion.
Leave us to deal with domestic & African problems - and P.M. concentrate on this gt. issue. Great responsibility.
Public response to P.M.'s effort.
i) No other leadership in West. Times leader. Distrust U.S. if influenced by Pentagon. Impressed by Caccia's messages. Not sure it wd. be regarded as panic. Danger of wrong decision or hardening attitude is in W'ton, not Paris & Bonn. It is only in W'ton that things can be pulled together.
ii) Divided G. I'm in favour of it. But what is G. opinion? Won't be easy to convince them.
We aren't ourselves ready for the final decision - on Anglo-U.S. basis. Best to fix date for visit - ask them in effect not to think about it m'while.
U.S. react so quickly - e.g. on K.'s tooth. Suppose K. went ahead with peace treaty at once, it wd. spark off U.S.
Hail. To what? Not to start nuclear war, surely. No initiative that U.S. cd. take.
Stress on negotiation is right. No future in mil. action. Even U.S. are thinking only in terms of threat. That will have to be followed by climb-down or by major war. No ques of latter. Must therefore negotiate : and there is room for compromise over Berlin v. the background of status quo. There may be, too, on disarmament.
Hail. Burden will be seen to rest on P.M. We have emerged as leader. Gt. pride in that is being shown - & we shall have public support in U.K.
But it will get us into difficulty with U.S. - whose people are conscious of
The great strength they have. Opinion there is running strongly anti-R.
Cd. S.Ll. go to U.S. in advance of you.
I cdn't limit myself to reporting.
Effect of "ganging up" on minds of Fr. and G.
Agree with x/. U.S. opinion won't take kindly to our leadership.
If we are to have divided G., we must solve Berlin problem. President is advised on this by Clay. Believe he may be reasonable about it. But first let us see what G. think about it.
Munich. The serious element was Prague following it. Helpful therefore to consider what we cd. do to prevent a Prague. Cd. you feed to U.S. the safeguards etc., for Berlin - so that they cd. put the plan fwd.
Immediate gain : ultimatum atmosphere is over, we hope. Must now bring U.S. round to negotiation. Will need time as well as care. Wdn't rush it.
Negotiation. Prefer short F.M. Mtg : for only at Summit will we get decisions.R. have suggested i) we need not have formal contacts with E. Germany.
ii) they wd. put token forces into W. Berlin.
Elements here for a compromise.
Value of this recce. Enhanced P.M.'s reputn. Ultimatum no longer insisted upon. Interested tht. R. can contemplate U.N. intervention in reln. to Berlin.
Policy must be based on continuance of divided G. Therefore we need somethg. like free city concept for Berlin.
Need of visits to F. & G. Their relations are worsening with each other : and in G. inter se. Open row over Iron & Steel. The Erharder row. Their nerves must be on edge. They wd. be v. suspicious if you now went 1st. to W'ton.
Warning to Cab. Avoid any appearance of sympathising with R. attitude. Must avoid suggn. that we are leading twds. a Munich.
Pride in P.M.'s achievement is mirrored in Colonies where I have bn. No change in yr. p'mme of visits. On merits, hope we shall have chance to consider policy re Germany.
Taken from C.C. 14(59) - Meeting held on 4 March 1959