396.1 LO/4–2450: Telegram

The United States Delegation at the Tripartite Preparatory Meetings to the Secretary of State

top secret

Secto 6. 1. In opening statement US–UK bilaterals this afternoon,1 Strang emphasized their informal and exploratory nature, asserting nothing we might say would be held against us and expressing hope that we would follow same policy. Jessup concurred his suggestion and then summarized points contained A–8.2

2. Jebb said British were broadly in agreement with these views, although considered important make following points:

On basis assessment developments in past year it appears to British that Soviet has had slight gain, mentioning in this connection production A–bomb and Communist successes China. British consider latter more than offset Tito disaffection. Point was, however, arguable.
Although Soviet will undoubtedly be more provocative in next several years, British do not feel that they will risk action which might result in hostilities. In view British military, critical period will be in 1955 or 1956.
Re our own weak spots, British feel SE Asia is weakest of all in whole grouping, and we must remedy situation there as matter “first necessity”. Jebb concluded that he agreed entirely with Jessup’s assessment Soviet vulnerabilities.

3. Strang then turned to special US–UK relationship which as meeting developed proved to be subject British most anxious to discuss as they repeatedly referred to it during conversations. US, UK, Commonwealth and Western Europe were nucleus around which Western world should form. Furthermore no partial agglomeration such as UK–Commonwealth, US or Western Europe, “was fit or adequate to stand alone”. He fully concurred Jessup’s statement re desirability common planning, adoption coordinated policies, and concentrated action implementation such policies and maintained that we must “support one another rather than act as rivals.” Referring to useful talks in Washington several months ago on Near East [Page 855] matters,3 he suggested desirability adopting same procedure on more generalized basis. US he said was stronger than UK, “but we have certain things to contribute.”

4. Wright developed Near East thesis further. Our joint approach to problems of that area in past several years has been premised on conviction that if we work at cross purposes, things go badly. As result agreement had been reached that we must work problems out together, “abjure rivalry”, and “see what we can do to help one another”. Same procedure should be followed “on wider lines,” although not necessarily on a country basis. All Western policy he concluded depends in final analysis “on our relationship with each other”.

5. Strang next observed that joint action can only be achieved if UK is and is to remain world power. He felt that it was to our interest that she should continue to be one and hoped that we felt the same way. Should this be the case, it would be helpful if we would refrain from doing things which might make it difficult for British. He had in mind, for example, “ideas from other side” of Atlantic which appeared to be designed to “hurt” sterling area. Wright then took up argument, maintaining that if we wish British to continue with “our special status,” we should help them in making sterling area strong and also not force British to give independence to peoples who are not yet ready for it. In reply to question, Wright stated that British were referring to sterling area in political rather than economic sense.

6. Jessup said we fully agree that UK is and should be world power, and “the more powerful and the more worldly the better”. With respect to dependent peoples and colonies, we should like to explore these questions separately from the standpoint of our common interests. Finally we do not want to break up the Common wealth.

7. Wright expressed his appreciation for Jessup’s assurances, but implied that we might take certain actions which might result in a Commonwealth break-up against anyone’s wishes, as for example, if we pushed UK into a European union. Such development, he maintained, would decrease UK’s effectiveness.

8. In reply Jessup’s inquiry, Strang said British do not exclude questions of close cooperation with Europe. What he wished to make clear, however, was that UK has a special relationship with three areas, the Commonwealth, the Atlantic community and Western Europe, and of these that with the Atlantic community was the most important, as it encompasses all three.

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Summary this meeting continued next telegram.

Sent Department Secto 6, repeated Paris 638.

  1. The first U.S.–U.K. bilateral meeting was held at 3:00 p. m. at the Foreign Office. The records of decisions and bipartite papers, prepared by Charles A. E. Shuckburgh, Secretary-General for the meetings and Head of the Western Organizations Department of the British Foreign Office, for all seven of these bilateral meetings are in the Conference Files: Lot 59D95: Box 85: CF’s 22 and 24.
  2. Dated April 14, p. 857.
  3. For documentation on Michael Wright’s discussions on the Near East with representatives of the Department of State, November 14–22, 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. vi, pp. 50 ff.