Paris Embassy Files

The Ambassador in France ( Caffery ) to the Director of the Office of European Affairs ( Hickerson )

top secret

Dear Jack: Just a few lines to keep you posted on the subject of my seeing General de Gaulle.

About three weeks ago we discussed the subject informally with two members of the General’s entourage who had been saying how advantageous a further mutual understanding of the American and Gaullist positions would be.

We took the position that we would welcome such a meeting and that I would be glad to have a frank talk with the General. We did not come out and request any date be fixed but let them understand that if the General thought well of the idea and believed it would be as useful as we did, that they would let us know.

[Page 630]

We have just heard informally from the same members of “the entourage” that while the General “would normally welcome with pleasure such a conversation, he felt that it would be too dangerous at the present time.” Our informant said that de Gaulle believes that it would be impossible to keep such a meeting secret (I fully concur in this), and he fears that the news of such a meeting at the present time might result in serious embarrassment to Prime Minister Schuman, which he wishes particularly to avoid at this time. (As I have reported, de Gaulle hopes to reach a satisfactory agreement with a majority of the Third Force through an agreement with Schuman.) Our source added, however, that conditions during the Easter parliamentary recess might be sufficiently stable to permit a talk between de Gaulle and myself without endangering the present Government’s position and that should the moment then seem propitious, the General would get in touch with me “perhaps in two weeks or so.”

Naturally it is somewhat encouraging to hear that de Gaulle is now talking in this more conciliatory vein yet I cannot help but feel that his restraint is at least caused in part by his belief that the situation is evolving very favorably for himself just now. What with the Pleven trial balloon (my telegram 1337 of March 131), it may well be that de Gaulle thinks he may absorb and take over the present Government, lock, stock and barrel, and thus come to power in a stronger and more secure fashion than if a crisis first occurs which might be laid at his doorstep.

Very sincerely yours,

Jefferson Caffery
  1. Not printed.