Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson)


Mr. Middleton came in to see me at his request at 4 p.m. this afternoon and handed me the attached aide-mémoire, dated May 24,53 in answer to our note of May 7 in regard to the proposed trusteeship agreements for Tanganyika, the Cameroons and Togoland. Mr. Middleton suggested that I read the note and give him any immediate comments I wished to make.

I read the aide-mémoire and told Mr. Middleton that after a careful consideration of the note we would have a number of comments to make. I told him that my immediate reaction was that the British Government must have misunderstood in at least one important particular our note of May 7. The British aide-mémoire refers to the United States Government’s “not pressing to be recognized as a ‘state directly concerned’”. I told Mr. Middleton that the purpose of our note was to state that we felt that on either of two grounds we could establish a claim as a state directly concerned as regards to these three trusteeship agreements. Our note, however, indicated a willingness that in certain circumstances we would not press such a claim, but we reserved our right to press our claim if these conditions were not met. I said that the whole purpose of our proposal was to reduce to the absolute minimum the number of states actually signing the agreement (and thus possessing a veto power before the agreements reached the United Nations). I said that we hoped that the British and French Governments would agree that it would be desirable to consult governments and obtain their views without recognizing their status as states directly concerned.

I went on to explain to Mr. Middleton that to be more explicit, if we did not assert or claim to be a state directly concerned in the three British Mandates, we would expect the British Government not to assert a claim to be a state directly concerned in agreements in respect of the Japanese Mandated Islands; that we would furthermore expect them to hold to an agreed minimum the number of states signing their three trusteeship agreements as states directly concerned; and that if they recognized as states directly concerned countries in respect of these three agreements which we did not believe to be states directly concerned, we would reserve the right to assert our claim to sign the agreements as a state directly concerned.

Mr. Middleton said that he had understood our note in this sense [Page 590] and he believed the British Government did. He said that he felt the whole difficulty was that the British Government had not decided whether or not to waive its claims to be a state directly concerned “in the Pacific Mandated Islands”.

I said that I had commented only on one aspect of the note after a hasty reading, and that we might have a number of other comments to make after we had studied the note.

John Hickerson
  1. Infra.