Minutes of the Fifth Meeting of the United States–United Kingdom–Canada Security Conversations, Held at Washington, March 31, 1948

top secret   security information

Present were the conferees of the third meeting. (Ambassador Wrong of Canada was the only principal present). Hickerson called the meeting to order at 1010; adjourned it at 1225.

Hickerson presented a new draft 1 of the informal position paper, incorporating changes suggested by Ambassador Douglas and by “indirect” soundings concerning the probable attitude of Congressional leaders. Effect of the alterations is to:

Introduce Rio Treaty language wherever possible.
Abandon any attempt to define “indirect aggression” substituting therefore provisions for consultation in the event any party to the pact considers itself thus menaced.
Provide that each party determines for itself “whether there has occurred an armed attack within the meaning of the agreement” and the immediate measures it may individually take in fulfilling its treaty obligations until coordinated measures have been agreed upon.

The new draft would have the President give specific assurances of support to Italy as well as to the Brussels signatories.

Jebb presented the view of Mr. Bevin that Switzerland should not be invited to participate in a conference looking to preparation of an Atlantic Security Pact, since this would be certain to court a rebuff, but rather should be informally advised that it would be welcome to participate on its own initiative. Hickerson accepted this view.

Hickerson stated that the position paper has the approval of Ambassador Douglas, and that Mr. Lovett (on the basis of insufficient study) considers it desirable in principle.

Several drafting questions were raised, including the applicability of specific articles of the United Nations Charter.

There was an inconclusive discussion of the geographic limits under which the pact might operate. Could Greenland be included if reference were made only to “metropolitan territories” of the parties? Could Alaska or Hawaii? Should Spitzbergen be covered? It was agreed that Alaska and Greenland would have to be covered and that a formula would have to be devised, but that the over-all problem should be studied by each of the three Governments.

A meeting (probably to be the last of the series) was set for the afternoon of 1 April, at which time Hickerson will present a new draft paper incorporating changes based on new points raised.

  1. Not found in Department of State files.