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Mr. Khrushchev replied he did not understand how the signing of a peace treaty
could worsen the world situation. Peace is always regarded as something beneficial
while the state of war is regarded as something evil.
The President said that the signing of a peace treaty is not a belligerent
act. He had not indicated this at all. However, a peace treaty denying us
our contractual rights is a belligerent act. The matter of a peace treaty
with East Germany is a matter for Mr. Khrushchev's judgment and is not a belligerent
act. What is a belligerent act is transfer of our rights to East Germany.
West Berlin is not important as a springboard. However, the US is committed
to that area and it is so regarded by all the world. If we accepted Mr. Khrushchev's
suggestion the world would lose confidence in the US and would not regard
it as a serious country. It is an important strategic matter that the world
believe the US is a serious country.
Mr. Khrushchev wondered what he should do in these circumstances. He said
he believed that US intentions led to nothing good. The USSR would never,
under any conditions, accept US rights in West Berlin after a peace treaty
had been signed. He said he was absolutely convinced that the peoples of the
world would understand such a position. Moreover, the US had deprived the
USSR unilaterally of its rights and interests in West Germany, it had deprived
the USSR of reparations in West Germany, and it had signed a unilateral peace
treaty with Japan. As a result of this latter action the Soviet Union still
has no peace treaty with Japan.
The President interjected that Mr. Khrushchev had said to President Eisenhower
that he would have signed the treaty. Mr. Khrushchev confirmed this, while
Mr. Gromyko said that the fact remained that the US had signed the Japanese
peace treaty without the Soviet Union.
Mr. Khrushchev went on to say that the US regarded all this as appropriate,
but now it says what the USSR wants to do is immoral. The USSR would like
to do it together with the US but if the US refuses to sign a peace treaty
the USSR will do it alone. East Germany will obtain complete sovereignty
and all obligations resulting from German surrender will be annulled. The
factor of the USSR's prestige should be taken into account. What the US wants
is to retain the rights gained after World War II even after a peace treaty
has been signed. This is a policy of "I do what I want". The USSR regards
East Germany as a completely sovereign state and it will sign a peace treaty
with it. Responsibility for violation of that sovereignty will be heavy.
The President said that there is every evidence that our position in Berlin
is strongly supported by the people there, and we are committed to that area.
Mr. Khrushchev says that we are for a state of war. This is incorrect. It
would be well if relations between East Germany and West Germany improved
and if the development of US-USSR relations were such as to permit solution
of the whole German problem. During his stay in office, Mr. Khrushchev has
seen many changes, and changes will go on. But now he wants a peace treaty
in six months, an action which would drive us out of Berlin. If we accepted
such a proposition we would lose our ties in West Europe and would lose
all our friends there. We do not wish to act in a way that would deprive the
Soviet Union of its ties in Eastern Europe. Mr. Khrushchev had said that the
President was a young man, but, the President continued, he had not assumed
office to accept arrangements totally inimical to US interests. The President
said he was prepared to discuss any problem but Mr. Khrushchev should take
into account our interests just as he says we should take into account his
Mr. Khrushchev said that then an interim agreement should be concluded. However,
no matter how long a time limit such an agreement were to provide for, the
Germans would not agree because no one wishes reunification. An interim agreement
would be a formal factor, it would give the semblance of the responsibility
for the problem having been turned over to the Germans themselves. If the
US does not wish such an arrangement there is no other way but to sign a peace
treaty unilaterally. No one can force the US to sign a peace treaty but
neither can the US make the Soviet Union accept its claims. Mr. Khrushchev
then said that an aide-memoire on the Berlin question/10/
had been prepared so that the US could study the Soviet position and perhaps
return to this question at a later date, if it wished to do so.
FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P50