|11 September – 12 October 1945
London Foreign Ministers Conference
|Although Potsdam would prove to be the first and last meeting among Stalin, Churchill and Truman, it was agreed at Potsdam that there would be occasional conferences among the foreign ministers of the principal Allied powers. The first convened in London in September 1945, just days after the surrender of Japan.
The event got off to a difficult start, as Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister, asked the British Foreign Secretary (Ernest Bevin) and the U.S. Secretary of State (James Byrnes) why their countries had refused to recognize the new pro-Soviet governments that the Red Army had set up in Rumania and Bulgaria. Byrnes’s replied that these governments had not been democratically elected, as stipulated in the Declaration of Liberated Europe issued at Yalta. The argument underlined a major problem—the Soviet Union insisted on having “friendly” regimes along its border, but any government resulting from democratic elections in Eastern Europe was unlikely to meet the Soviet definition of “friendly.” The failure to resolve this tension would ultimately lead to Soviet domination of all of Eastern Europe.