IO Files: US/A/AC, 18/146, also US/S/597

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Joseph E. Johnson, Deputy United States Representative in the Interim Committee

Participants: M. Guy de La Tournelle, French Delegation
Mr. J. E. Johnson, United States Mission

Encountering M. de La Tournelle in the Delegates Lounge Friday ‘morning, I said that I had been somewhat surprised when M. Orden-neau had earlier in the week reserved the French Delegation’s position on recommendations (1) and (2) of the Interim Committee’s Sub-committee 3. These recommendations related to agreement among the permanent members and other members of the Security Council to regard certain decisions as procedural and certain others as subject to a vote of any seven members whether procedural or non-procedural.

M. de La Tournelle replied in effect that there was no reason for surprise, since this action was consistent with the French attitude on veto discussions in the Interim Committee from the beginning. He said that the French had opposed reference of the veto question to the Interim Committee and explained that while the French are emphatically in favor of reducing the area covered by the veto, they have always felt that this should be done by agreement among the permanent [Page 233] members of the Security Council. When I pointed out that the resolution proposed to the Assembly contemplated exactly that, he replied in effect that even so the Interim Committee should not deal with the problem. When I asked whether that attitude carried over to the Assembly itself, he said that it did. He gave me clearly to understand that the French Delegation both in the Interim Committee and in the Assembly would refuse to favor these first two recommendations from the Interim Committee.

When I attempted to suggest that the meetings on the veto held by the Council of Foreign Ministers in New York in the fall of 1946 demonstrated the difficulty of bringing about relaxation of the veto by Five Power consultations without any other action, de La Tournelle replied that in effect those meetings had been at least partially successful because there the U.S.S.R. had definitely agreed that abstention is permissible.

In the course of our conversation de La Tournelle stated that it has always been his personal view that the French made a mistake in joining the permanent members of the Security Council. Had they not done so, they would have been, not the least of the great but the greatest of the small powers, and would have been able to play a role of leadership and of conciliation far superior to that which they had been playing.