Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of International Organization Affairs (Popper)

Participants: Sir John Balfour, [Minister] British Embassy
Mr. Henderson, British Embassy
EUR: Mr. Llewellyn Thompson
SE: Mr. Walter C. Dowling
UNA: Mr. Dean Rusk
OA: Mr. David H. Popper

Sir John stated that Mr. Bevin and the Foreign Office had grave doubts as to the desirability of our raising in the Security Council the question of Italy’s application for United Nations membership. The British considered that if the matter were raised in this way it would be stigmatized as election propaganda by the Communists in Italy and would thus lose much of its effectiveness. They also felt that the obvious political character of the manoeuvre would injure still further the prestige of the United Nations. They questioned particularly what they understood to be our proposal not to consider the application of Trans-Jordan along with that of Italy, pointing out that the special stress on expeditious procedure with regard to these two applications during the last General Assembly gave at least some legal coloration to extraordinary consideration of the two applications together at this time. Sir John also mentioned the possibility that the Soviets might move for the consideration of all pending membership applications or might revive their proposal for a deal involving the admission of Italy and the Balkan Satellites. He suggested that, if we were determined to proceed with the Italian application, we should delay action until some time closer to the date of the Italian election, on the assumption that the step might appear less blatantly propagandist if it did not immediately follow the Trieste démarche.

Sir John stated that the United Kingdom Delegation in New York had reported that our delegation was planning to invite the Russians [Page 183] Immediately to a consultation on March 25, with a view to a Security Council meeting on the Italian application on March 30.

By way of a preliminary reaction, Sir John was informed that in our view there was a considerable advantage to be gained in Italy by taking the initiative in this matter, particularly since the Russians might otherwise do so. It was stated that any disadvantage which we might suffer from bringing the matter up would be apparent not in Italy but outside that country. It was our feeling that if the Soviets attempted to link the admission of Italy with that of the Balkan Satellites, Italian pride would be injured and our own position aided. There was, furthermore, some possibility that the Soviets might not at this stage veto the application.

We said that we were not aware that there had been any firm decision to drop consideration of the Trans-Jordan application and indicated that we would seek further information on this point.

As regards procedure, we suggested that it might be desirable to begin the process of consultation at once but to delay actual discussion and a vote in the Security Council for a period of about ten days. Sir John appeared to favor a longer interval of perhaps two weeks before a vote was taken. We also suggested that Sir John might wish to report our comment as the Department’s preliminary reaction, but that we would make a further check on the subject and would give him more definite views.

D[avid] H. P[opper]