In preparation for the ministerial meetings in London and for the bilateral and tripartite talks scheduled to precede them, appropriate offices of the Department of State began in March to draft position papers on various topics. These were assembled under eight categories: (a) General, (b) European Affairs, (c) Far Eastern Affairs, (d) Near East-African Affairs, (e) German Affairs, (f) United Nations Affairs, (g)Economic Affairs, and (h) Public Affairs and were prefaced with the indicator “FM.” Within each category numbers designated separate topics and the various drafts on the same topic were indicated by letters after the numbers. Thus a paper on progress in implementing the North Atlantic Treaty, which was the second revision of an earlier draft on the same subject, was labeled FM B–2/1c.
The pattern for this geographic and topical arrangement was presented in a memorandum of March 16 by the Policy Reports Staff of the Executive Secretariat, FM Memo No. 2, not printed, which assigned topics and deadlines for submission of the position papers. Copies of this memorandum, together with a revision of April 14, FM Memo No. 2b, which listed the proposed and complete position papers, and a revision of April 30, FM Memo No. 2d, showing the clearances by the Department and by Secretary Acheson for each paper, none printed, are in the CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 148: FM Memos 1–14. These lists and other explanatory papers collected in Lot M–88 are the basis for the identification of agenda items and position papers referred to in documentation on the London meetings.
The position papers, which numbered more than 80 by the end of April, were prepared according to directions set out in FM Memo No. 3 of March 22, not printed. According to these directions their format was to be as follows: (1) Problem. A brief statement of the problem in terms of obtaining British, French, tripartite or NATO agreement to a particular line of action, (2) Background. A statement of the relationship of the problem to the broader aspects of United States policy and a review of previous agreements or discussions on the matter, (3) Discussion. Review of the Department of State’s current thinking and the reasons for the recommendations presented, with identification of other possible courses of action and reasons why they had been rejected, and (4) Recommendations. The specific proposals to be advanced and alternate positions which might [Page 833] be acceptable in the bilateral, tripartite or NATO discussions. Many of these papers were revised before or during the London meetings, and a complete file of them is in the CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 149.
In the same lot file are background papers, agenda of various meetings held during the London talks, and papers from the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressing their views on the position papers submitted to them. Lot M–88 is a consolidated master collection of the records of conferences of Heads of State and Foreign Ministers meetings for the years 1943–1955 prepared by the Department of State Records Service Center.