Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

Participants: Department of State: British:
Mr. Dunn Mr. Eden
Mr. Hiss (part of the time) Mr. Dixon
Mr. Noyes Mr. Makin
The Secretary Mr. Allen

Mr. Eden, at his request, called upon the Secretary bringing with him his aides. After a short talk alone, the Secretary called in Mr. Dunn, Mr. Hiss, and Mr. Noyes. Mr. Eden called in Mr. Makin and Mr. Dixon.

A. San Francisco Matters

1. Chinese Position

The Secretary told Mr. Eden that he just had a very satisfactory conference with Foreign Minister Soong of China.17 Among other things, Mr. Soong had told him that the Chinese Delegation was strongly in favor of setting up a United Nation Organization at San Francisco and would cooperate in every way with the United States and the United Kingdom in making the Conference a success.

2. Foreign Ministers Meeting re Conference

It was agreed after discussions that the four Foreign Ministers representing the sponsoring powers should hold a meeting, if possible, this coming Saturday18 to go over and settle various matters regarding [Page 324] the organization of the Conference. Mr. Stettinius asked Mr. Hiss to plan to stay over the weekend in order to attend this meeting and to accompany him on his plane to San Francisco.

3. Chairman of the Conference

There was a discussion of the alternative proposals of having a single Chairman or a rotating Chairman. The Secretary stated that it was our position that in order, to have effective operations, it was essential that there be one Chairman who could be responsible for directing the Secretary General on all matters relating to the Conference. We felt that one of the sponsoring powers should provide the Chairman but did not care from which country he came. Mr. Eden felt that the Secretary should be chosen in view of the fact that the U.S. was the host. It was agreed that Mr. Hiss would raise this issue on Saturday as one of the matters on the agenda for the Foreign Ministers and that either Mr. Eden or Mr. Soong would propose that Mr. Stettinius should be named as the permanent President of the Conference.

The Secretary explained what we had in mind in regard to the President and three Vice Presidents, we felt that the burden of presiding at plenary sessions would be too great for one man. We also desired to recognize the position of the sponsoring powers. We propose, therefore, that there should be a permanent President, and that the other three Chairmen of the Delegation of the sponsoring governments should be named as Vice Presidents. The President would preside over the first plenary session, and from then on he and the Vice Presidents would rotate as presiding officers. Mr. Eden raised a question as to whether this system would be practical and suggested that Mr. Stettinius preside at every meeting. Mr. Stettinius and Mr. Dunn both said that we felt it was better to have a rotating system. Mr. Eden asked, if this was the case, what were the Russians objecting to. Mr. Hiss stated they were insisting on four Chairmen entirely equal in name and prestige. The Secretary pointed out that this would not only cause great confusion but would provide a poor precedent for the International Organization itself.

4. Membership of the Executive Committee of the Steering Committee

Mr. Eden said that he had just come from a meeting of the British Commonwealth in London.19 He was in agreement with our proposed list of nations to sit on the Executive Committee with one exception. He proposed that Iran be eliminated and that Australia be put in its place. The Secretary pointed out that it would be very difficult to have three British members on an Executive Committee of only eleven. Mr. Eden pointed out that there were no small or medium powers from [Page 325] the Pacific on the Executive Committee; that Australia had participated wholeheartedly in the war, and was prepared to take a substantial part in security arrangements for the peace. The Secretary and Mr. Dunn continued to raise objections to the British having three members on the Steering Committee. Mr. Dunn said that while the U.S. did not object, other nations most certainly would. He felt it might endanger the Conference and even react on the British themselves if they presented this point. He thought this was particularly true since it so happened that there were eleven members on the Executive Committee, and it was also proposed that there should be eleven members on the Security Council. Membership of the Executive Committee might therefore be considered as the forerunner of the Security Council, particularly if the membership of the Executive Committee got along well and worked out successfully. He suggested that if the British were to have three members on the Executive Committee, it might be wise to increase membership beyond eleven so that there would be no precedent. Mr. Eden said that he thought the point of the same number had been intentional and that it was wiser to leave the membership as it stood. Mr. Eden said that he thought it was essential that Canada should be a member, and he thought Prime Minister Smuts would be an enormous help; that he had stood out head and shoulders above the rest at the Commonwealth Conference. He was sure that Mr. Smuts would make a large contribution as he was strongly in favor of the Organization. He also stated that the British were clear that Canada had a prior right to membership on the Executive Committee as against Australia. He had informed Mr. Evatt of this fact. He suggested that they would send a message to Mr. Evatt advising him of our difficulties in accepting the proposal which he had made.20 He suggested that possibly Australia might be given one of the one year term seats on the Security Council which were provided for in the Charter. Mr. Dunn thought this might be possible.

The Secretary stated that he did not think that the membership of the Executive Steering Committee necessarily set a pattern for the Security Council. Mr. Eden agreed but thought as a practical matter that it probably did.

Mr. Eden said that he did not agree to our recent suggestion that Czechoslovakia should be eliminated in favor of Chile. Mr. Dunn stated that we had dropped this proposal after the Russians had objected. It was stated that the Russians had urged that Yugoslavs should be given a seat on the Executive Committee instead of the Netherlands since they had suffered more and contributed more to [Page 326] the war effort. Our answer to that was no. Mr. Eden agreed, and said that it was essential to have one of the small Western European powers represented on the Committee.

5. Official Language at the Conference

The Secretary asked Mr. Hiss whether he had any urgent problems. Mr. Hiss said that the most urgent problem was the question of the official language. The Russians had taken an absurd position on this issue demanding that all important documents of the Conference be printed in Russian. In view of this position, the Chinese had also demanded that anything that was printed in Russian would also have to be printed in Chinese. This was out of the question, as we had few printers who could print in Chinese. Our position was that Russian and Chinese should be among the official languages but that we would not currently print all documents in those languages but would print the final document in those languages and have original signatures on those documents after the Conference was completed. Mr. Eden agreed to our position.

6. Procedure for Steering Committee

Mr. Hiss explained that the Steering Committee would have on it the Chairmen of all the Delegations—46 people. It would have as its operating arm the Executive Committee of eleven. It was expected that the Executive Committee would be the key organ for making decisions at the Conference. The Executive Committee would be expected to settle the major issues and prepare papers, recommendations and agenda for the Steering Committee as a whole. It was suggested that the Steering Committee would accept the recommendations of the Executive Committee. He stated that the session on the opening day would not be considered a plenary session of the Conference but would be a formal opening in which the U. S. will welcome the Conferees. The session is expected to last one-half hour. The Secretary said President Truman would open the Conference with a short speech from the White House and there would be a band present. After a few ceremonies and short speeches by the Mayor and Governor Warren,21 the Secretary would close the meeting with a five minute address. Mr. Hiss said that the next morning the Steering Committee would hold its first session to organize the Conference. There would be no nomination committee as such matters would be handled by the Steering Committee. In any case, a great many decisions would already have been made. It was hoped that the Steering Committee could present to the first plenary session, the afternoon of Thursday, April 26th, a complete document outlining the Organization of the Conference. The first plenary session would be devoted [Page 327] to speeches by the Chairmen of the Delegations. It was planned that the President of the Conference would make the first speech and that the Foreign Ministers of the sponsoring powers would follow in alphabetical order. Mr. Eden wondered whether this would be wise and suggested the advisability of holding one or two of these speeches until later on so that a rebuttal, if necessary, can be made of the proposals raised. Mr. Hiss said that the publicity and radio people were very anxious to have the Foreign Ministers of the sponsoring powers speak on the first day. Mr. Eden acquiesced. It was agreed that the speeches should be limited to around fifteen minutes. It was decided that Mr. Hiss would prepare an agenda for the Foreign Ministers Conference Meeting on Saturday.

B. Poland

Mr. Eden stated that he had just received a telegram from Moscow to the effect that since Harriman and Clark-Kerr had left, there was no longer the same urgency to deliver the message from the President and the Prime Minister to Stalin.22 He23 and the American Ambassador had therefore agreed to delay action until Wednesday morning April 18th to permit further changes to be made if the Prime Minister and Eden desired. If no word was received prior to that time they would send to Stalin the original message agreed upon. Mr. Eden stated that two new events had occurred since discussing this previously which might change our position. The first was that the Russians had informed us that they were about to sign a mutual assistance pact with the Lublin Government of Poland. The Secretary stated that we had received a cable to this effect24 also, and was disturbed by it. Mr. Eden said that the Russians had come out again publicly demanding that the Lublin Poles be represented at San Francisco if no new government had been formed by that time. He stated that Ambassador Clark-Kerr had urged very strongly against making any concessions whatever in our joint telegram as the Russians would construe it as a sign of weakness. He thought there was still time to make a change if it was decided that such a change as Clark-Kerr had suggested was considered favorably.

The Secretary and Mr. Dunn both stated that they felt that no change should be made even though there might be time to do so. Mr. Dunn stated that we had received a similar message from our Embassy and had already telegraphed a reply instructing our Embassy to deliver the message as previously instructed.25 Mr. Dunn [Page 328] gave our views on this matter at some length. He said that we felt it would be a mistake to demand that five Poles other than the Lublin Poles be brought from inside Poland to Moscow as the Russians would never agree to this. Any attempt to get them to do so would just be butting our heads against a brick wall.

It was agreed to stand by the original message. During this discussion, the Prime Minister called Mr. Eden and Mr. Eden advised that the Prime Minister agreed with this position.

Mr. Eden stated that there was considerable risk that Mr. Mikołajczyk would not proceed to Moscow at all if the non-Lublin Poles selected from Poland itself were not representative of the Polish people. The Secretary and Mr. Dunn agreed that this presented a problem. Mr. Eden stated that he might want some help from us to prod Mr. Mikołajczyk into going. The Secretary said he would be glad to do so.

Mr. Eden stated that the British were considerably disturbed at the prospect of a mutual assistance agreement being made between the U.S.S.R. and the Lublin Poles at this time. He suggested that we both ask the Russians to postpone action until Mr. Molotov arrived and he (Eden) and the Secretary had a chance to talk to him about the matter. The Secretary agreed and instructed that such a cable be sent.26 Mr. Dunn felt that the Russians were going to proceed with this treaty regardless of any objections on our part, and that all we were doing in any case was to make our position a matter of record.

The Secretary told Mr. Eden that the position which the Catholics had recently taken in connection with the International Organization was very serious.27 He felt that this position was accounted for largely by the failure of the Polish negotiations and fears about what the Russians were going to do. Mr. Dulles had told him that while a few weeks ago sixty percent of the religious organizations were in favor of the Organization now it was only fifty-fifty. The Secretary suggested that Mr. Eden have his people brief him on this.

C. Argentina

Mr. Eden asked the Secretary what the latest position was on Argentina. The Secretary said that we were in a difficult position at the moment because the Argentine Government had requested that [Page 329] in accordance with the Mexico City Agreements they should be permitted to sign the United Nations Declaration.28 Mr. Eden said that the British had no objection. The Secretary said that the Latin American Republics had none either but that we were quite sure that the U.S.S.R. was not prepared to agree. He said we had not yet decided what to do. He had told Mr. Rockefeller to advise the South American Ambassadors with whom he was discussing this matter that he, the Secretary, was prepared to take this matter up and discuss it with the Foreign Ministers when they arrived here later this week but that he was not prepared to request or propose favorable action. He felt this would hold the situation only temporarily. The Secretary said he thought recognition was one thing but acceptance as a United Nation was another. The United Nations had grouped together to stop the enemy and now we should go slowly before permitting the Argentine to join.…

Mr. Eden said this was fundamentally a U. S. decision and that he would support us in any decision we made but would not himself push the Argentine case. The question was asked as to whether the Argentine request involved the matter of an invitation to the Conference. The Secretary stated that this had not arisen yet but we did expect it in due course, and that if they became a United Nation during the Conference, the matter might have to be put to a vote in the Conference as to whether Argentina would be permitted a seat. Mr. Eden seemed somewhat surprised at this and wondered what would happen in that event.

The Secretary called Mr. Rockefeller into the meeting-and he asked him to explain to Mr. Eden the Argentine situation as he saw it. They had a private discussion of five or ten minutes.

[Here follow sections D through G concerning Holland, Austria, Sweden, and prisoners of war.]

E[dward] S[tettinius, Jr.]
  1. In a memorandum of April 17 to President Truman, Secretary Stettinius transmitted a letter from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to President Roosevelt, April 6, which Foreign Minister Soong had presented to him that afternoon, and the Secretary suggested that President Truman receive Dr. Soong, as he had the British and Soviet Foreign Ministers. Secretary Stettinius noted in his Diary of 15–23 April that the Generalissimo had informed President Roosevelt in his April 6 letter that he had appointed Dr. Soong as Chief of the Chinese Delegation with full power to “conclude all agreements of a political, economic and financial nature with your Government.” For President Truman’s comments on his meeting with Dr. Soong on April 19, see Memoirs by Harry S. Truman , vol. i, p. 66.
  2. For minutes of meeting of the Foreign Ministers to discuss procedural matters concerning the Conference, April 23, 9:35 p.m., see p. 363.
  3. The Dominion Prime Ministers held a conference, beginning April 4, to discuss the proposals on international organization.
  4. Australia had asked for representation on the Executive Committee since there were no countries representing the Southwest Pacific area (minutes of first meeting of “Big Four” Foreign Ministers, April 23, p. 363).
  5. Roger D. Lapham, Mayor of San Francisco, and Earl Warren, Governor of California.
  6. See draft message from President Truman to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union quoting text of the proposed joint message, vol. v, p. 219.
  7. i.e., Ambassador Clark Kerr.
  8. See telegram 1198, April 16, 7 p.m., from Moscow, vol. v, p. 225.
  9. See telegram 882, April 16, 4 p.m., to Moscow, ibid.
  10. Telegram 899, April 17, 7 p.m., to Moscow, vol. v, p. 227.
  11. Reference here is to a statement issued by the Archbishop and Bishops of the Administrative Board of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, released April 14, expressing doubt and fear about certain provisions in the proposed Charter, such as the voting procedure in the Security Council, deploring the Polish problem and the enslavement of the Baltic States, and calling for the re-establishment of liberated European countries under genuine democratic regimes.
  12. See telegram 2646, April 5, 5 p.m., to London, p. 199.