Washington talks: meeting with Malenkov - part 2

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Washington talks: meeting with Malenkov - part 2

P.M.

Must settle reply to R. message of 5/7.
Discussed with A.E. following reply. Read draft. Suggesting early September, and Berne, Stockholm & Vienna in that order.

Sal.

Realise gt. effort by P.M. & A.E. to meet diffies. wh. some of us feel.
But hope no message need be sent now leading up a firm proposal for bi-lateral talks.
At first discn. I was mainly concerned with constitutional aspect - Cab not consulted. On refln. I find internl. repercussns. even more disturbing. Some people think R. is now gtest threat to peace.
I don't. I think main danger is fr. U.S. - tht. they may decide time has come to bring issue to head while they are vulnerable.
During this period, supreme object of policy shd. be to preserve unity of West. How expect U.S. to respect tht. if we approach R. w'out prior consultn. What shd. we think of such an approach if made by other? Surely, free to take independent line. cf. A.E.'s reaction to F.D.'s proposal to convene mtg. on S.E.A.
This a.m. Moscow announcemt. on results of Geneva. It makes points
i) no problem wh. can't be solved by conference. Good - but ii) constant attacks on U.S. aggressive policies.
No further message w'out consultn. with Allies.
Cd. reply tht. Moscow announcemt. needs review by us - changes sitn.

P.M.

Read again Eisenhower's message in reply to meaty message. In view of that can't be said there has bn. no consultn. ("not a word to") U.S.

Sal.

No word was said before the approach was made to Molotov.

P.M.

Much said informally (tho' with no time factor?) in W'ton.
To D. as well as Eisenhower. I mentioned bi-lateral recce as well as eventual 3 Power. They knew what was in my mind.
I consulted A.E. Gained impn. tht. altho' he wd. not have initiated it, he didn't disapprove. He cd. have insisted on reference to Cab.

A.E.

I suggd. that time & again. It was my view tht. they shd. be.

P.M.

You cd. have insisted. Or insisted on incldg. that in message to RAB.
But I thght it better tht. I shd. take responsibility alone for first approach. Didn't wish Cab. to be committed.
This was not a new idea. Draw attn. to debate of 5/4/54. Words "immediate initiative" & our views publicly expd. on them are of special importance. The resolution was carried, with those words.
Thought it in best interests of Cab. tht. I shd. explore the ground on personal basis. A rejection wd. have set my conscience at rest & not involved Cab. But we received a v. friendly response.
And I believe they will accept a formal proposal.
Don't admit tht. my action was improper. If Cab. thght so, I shd. have forfeited their confidence & shd. resign.
If they answered 'come to Moscow', I shd. decline - have made that clear to Eisenh. May be they cdn't bring several out. My para. 3 implied tht. they cd. bring more of them to a neutral mtg. place. They may need more than in Stalin's day.
Ask Cab. authy. to send this as personal and priv. message to M.

Sal.

Can a P.M. take action wh. may profoundly affect of future of country w'out prior consultn. with Cab.

P.M.

Not prepd. to answer that.
I was of the opinion tht. this concerned me alone. I have done nothg. unconstitutional.
What of Sal.'s readiness to go on with H. bomb prepns., w'out knowledge of full Cabinet.

Sal.

That was a provisional decn. wh. was to be reported to Cabinet.
I have bn. bred in principle of prior consultn. with Cab. on matters of importance wh. a P.M. was disposed to do.

P.M.

Must have decn. - if not to-day, early next week.

A.E.

Serious passage in R. announcemt. Hostility to U.S.
My posn.. I don't believe anythg. of value can come of this mtg.
Topics won't yield results. On Eur. ques R. attitude is closed.
On G. they stand on Berlin Confce. attitude. What they are ready to discuss is - abolition of H. bomb, China in U.N., their security plan for Europe. Tel. sent round (1781 Paris) this a.m. - giving a/c of M. France's talk with Molotov: all the same topics & same negative attitude. On Eur. they aren't ready to budge.
On other hand, P.M. wants to do this & thinks some result may be achieved. If P.M. persists, ready tht. attempt be made so long as mtg. is not on R. soil.
Nature of R. system. Looks like 3 or 5 men with divided responsibilities. This may make them reluctant to leave R.
I was not opposed to dispatch of message as drafted.
But wd. like to study new announcemt. over w/end. May be more diff. to make this approach at a time when R. are openly showing such hostility to U.S.
If we reply as planned & they offer to meet outside R. we mght have to say we can't meet while they continue to abuse our Ally, U.S.

H.M.

Hope we may defer decision until next week.

O.L.

Sitn. being same, mtg. project must go fwd. (my view).
No interference with P.M.'s commns. - or Cab. collective response.
But for future - we can't break Govt. up on basis tht. colleagues prevented P.M. fr. takg. this chance of preservg. peace.
Only a new factor can let us out of that dilemma.

R.A.B.

Don't anticipate Cab. crisis. Believe R. will answer with invitn. to Moscow - & that wd. end it.
Feel tht. final posns. shd. not be taken at this stage.
This isn't such an unusual manoeuvre. A.E. has had much contact with Mol. Contact by P.M. is not so much more.
Warning given in speech of 11/5.
My personal posn. I made comment & despatched tel. w'out consultg. Cab. That must rule my future action. Have expld. to P.M. why I did what I did : but don't want now to go back over it. Ready to explain to any colleague who wants to discuss it.
Need to hold Party together at this time - v. diff. sitn. at home & abroad.

H.C.

All placed in gt. diffy. Cab. weren't consulted on speech of 11/5.
Ques of timing. Message fr. P.M. bearing same date as R. announcemt. on Geneva wd. be gravely embarrassing if it leaked.
Hope therefore there may be delay.

P.M.

Speeches are often made w'out consultn. with Cab.
cf. A.E.'s speech before W'ton - peaceful co-existence & Locarno.
Hardly practicable to have all speeches vetted in advance.

H.C.

No - but novel & startling idea was put out in May 11 speech.

H.M.

Share Sal.'s view on procedure followed. But past is now less important than future. Let us concentrate on that.
If R. accept, it will be because they see chances of driving wedge betw. us & U.S. still further.

Sw.

Agree with O.L. and H.M.
Most important thing is Anglo-U.S. relns. Nothing cd. harm them more than break up of this Govt. now on this issue.

M.F.

Hope A.E. can tell us effect of mtg. on feeling in Europe.

A.E.

Shd. have to tell Fr. & G. what we intend. They won't like it. Will be damaging. Shall need to "handle it".
P.M.'s suggn. of date was designed to give time for E.D.C. debate to be completed.

W.M.

If I had bn. consulted on message, I shd. have agreed.
But - future. U.S. know tht. approach has bn. made. Eis. doesn't dispute your right, tho' he doubts the wisdom. If we don't proceed, do we give R. chance of embarrassg. us by disclosing tht. approach was made & w'drawn.
Hope may be slender. But if decision had to be taken to-day I wd. say that, havg. gone so far, we shd. go on. Welcome delay until next week for R. announcmt. may at least indicate need to alter tone of our reply.

H.M.

If we think R. refusal wd. get us out, argument for makg. a formal approach now - so tht. we cd. publish reason for failure. We mght feel precluded from disclosing private messages.

Ll.G.

Defer until next week. If R. announcemt. is official, cd. hardly send message to-day - wd. suggest we didn't care what effect on U.S.

P.T.

Govt. mustn't disintegrate on this. That wd. do serious damage to Anglo-U.S. relns. We may have to go fwd.

F.H.

P.M. said in debate "immediate" doesn't commit us to act at unsuitable time.

W.

Wd. P.M. think it right to ask Eis. to say wtr R. announcemt. (if official) has altered his latest message.P.M. saying its purely personal doesn't help. The country wd. not believe tht. this was not Govt. responsibility. And, now we have bn. consulted, it can't be treated as private. Action has bn. taken & we shall have to follow it up. Wd. be ready to assent to this message if I was assured it wdn't damage Anglo-U.S. relations.

H.C.

Agree tht. no point in raking over past. So long as it's clear that he was not alone in his view tht. this message shd. not have bn. sent w'out prior consultn. with Cab.

H.M.

Agreed.
Agreed : meet again on this at 11.30 a.m. Monday.

Taken from C. 52(54) - Meeting held on 23 July 1954.