396.1 LO/5–950: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Acting Secretary of State

secret   niact

2186. From USDel. Re Embtel 2185, repeated London 616.1 Summary French-US ministerial conversations, May 8, afternoon session.2

Schuman opened by indicating French agreed to our proposed statement on Indochina with minor drafting modifications which were still under discussion.

Item 4: Closer association, sub-item a: NATO.

At Schuman’s invitation I opened by stating that at London three delegations had agreed on principle of strengthening NATO whose meetings are too episodic in character by creating continuing body and strong executive. It was obvious that further work on tripartite basis was necessary before agreed project could be placed before Council.

Schuman observed there was tripartite agreement on necessity of permanent and continuing body: since ministers cannot sit continuously they must be represented by deputies. British at London revealed certain doubts as to composition and powers to be given to executive body but agreement should be easy to find. French preference was for committee of three chosen from among deputies on basis of their high individual quality, not of countries they represent.

I admitted to being puzzled by arguments over powers of executive body. As I understood it, NATO as a whole has only powers of recommendation to governments. Question is purely organizational: there [Page 1014] must be one focal spot towards which all available facts and recommendations of subsidiary bodies converge, and an able executive assisted by highly qualified staff to do work.

Schuman said he saw problem as follows: on top there was Council of Ministers meeting once or twice a year; below that permanent Council of Deputies meeting once a month or oftener, within which would be created executive committee of three aided by secretariat to implement decisions reached. Schuman feared that susceptibility of small nations would make them shy away from approving idea of one man endowed with great executive powers and recalled difficulties in getting agreement to establishment of standing group. He added, however, that French position was not rigid and if highly qualified man could be found and was acceptable to all, France would be glad to agree.

I said that I had no fixed views but felt that we should not uselessly complicate machinery. Essential thing was to set up body which would supply Foreign Ministers with full information with which to resolve problems of coordination within their own government. Schuman replied that he would be agreeable to leaving it to the deputies to nominate one person or a group of people to do the essential work we all agreed had to be done.

At Schuman’s request we reversed order of sub-items (b) and (c) and took up “long-term economic relationships with US.”

Schuman opened by suggesting it was not too soon to study what US relationships with Western Europe would be after 1952, and stating French view that this relationship must be given organizational expression outside NATO. Although Article 2 of NAT provided for discussion of economic questions, 8 out of 18 European countries do not belong to NATO and some would be reluctant to join. Schuman said he would like nothing better than to bring economic organization under NATO in form of “Atlantic High Council of Peace” as suggested by Bidault,3 but no such scheme was able to avoid stumbling-block of unwillingness of certain countries to join organization with such clear military objective. Using NATO framework would create new iron curtains on our side of present Iron Curtain. Hence, France had proposed relationship between OEEC countries and US and Canada. UK had not accepted this at London. Since we had time to resolve these questions before 1952, perhaps we might agree to refer whole problem to study group.

I replied that while we must discuss this question at further length on tripartite basis, I was personally sympathetic to Schuman’s idea. [Page 1015] US Government is devoting intensive study to problem of post-1952 relations with Europe and President has entrusted Gordon Gray with mission of studying all aspects of problem and has instructed entire executive department to furnish him full cooperation. This should result in full report by summer which might be referred for study to body of distinguished citizens whose views could lay basis for preparation of US public opinion and perhaps for recommendations to Congress. Executive branch of US Government fully accepted principle of continuing US interest in Europe after 1952, but obviously practical measures which this principle called for would require new departures in traditional US policies related, for instance, to tariffs, and public and private US investments. I likewise emphasized that our policy as it evolved would be closely connected with (a) what Europeans themselves accomplished in way of closer association of their economy and (b) with our coordinated defense effort which must have sound economic basis. It seemed to me that if we all were to succeed, problem must be viewed in new broad setting. I expressed hope that we could reach further conclusions on tripartite basis during which we would discuss implementation of specific measures such as European payments union.

Schuman agreed that this question should be left for London.

Item 4 (b)—Germany.

I stated this was one of our biggest problems and while I anticipated that no action would result from present bipartite meeting, I hoped our discussion would help identify issues and accelerate momentum toward solutions. I then observed that our analysis took as point of departure two basic facts,

Military occupation operates on the law of diminishing returns. While estimates of period remaining to occupying powers to make effective their influence varies from 18 months to 3 years it was clear that HICOM could not effectively last forever and we must quickly agree on solutions for future. (I made clear that I was not referring to withdrawal of military forces from Germany.)
Germany must be irrevocably aligned to West.

Acceptance of these facts inescapably led to following conclusions on (a) we must offer security to Germany and (b) we must offer Germany economic future with promise of higher standard of living.

In examining these conclusions one had choice between defeatist attitude of handing over all powers immediately to Germans or more positive attitude that HICOM must on basis of experience return powers by anticipation rather than under pressure or compulsion.

In security field we should not contemplate building up German military forces. If we strengthen and consolidate military strength [Page 1016] of Western world under NAT, Germany will feel progressively more secure since this would diminish aggressive possibilities of USSR. We might also contemplate changing the emphasis and functions of our military occupation forces in Germany so that Germans would come to look upon them not as symbol of coercion but as representing outpost of defense of West and hence occupation costs would become in German eyes German contribution to Western defense rather than punitive cost of losing war.

Re economic security, I stressed that opportunity for economic development must be offered Germany through German participation in broad economic organizations and through possibility for exports to Africa and other backward areas as development schemes for such areas evoke [evolve?]. Likewise Germans should be given chance to move freely about Western world and so rid themselves of prevailing claustrophobia.

In return, Germans must learn to behave like mature Westerners, refrain from making trade agreements with USSR in conflict with Western trade policy, stop haggling over joining Council of Europe, adhere to GATT, cooperate faithfully in OEEC and put stop to any tendency to play off East against West.

I then listed three problems requiring urgent action: (1) unity inside HICOM must be preserved and recurrence of recent case of flagrant free-wheeling by one power must be obviated;4 (2) HICOM must start now to lay plans for gradual and progressive relinquishment of its powers with establishment of time-table, constantly revised and kept up to date, which would insure that these relinquishments would be made on our own terms and in advance of German pressure; (3) idea of European integration, which has considerable basic appeal in Germany, must be kept alive by series of specific measures leading towards progressive integration of Germany into Europe and Western world.

Schuman replied that my outline corresponded both generally and specifically with present French policy which he summarized as follows: (1) establishment of progressive program for gradual resumption of sovereign powers by Germany, it being understood that in meanwhile occupying powers retain final authority; (2) reintegration of Germany in Western community at rate which Germans would be made to understand would correspond to German behavior and achievement; (3) French ideas on occupation closely coincide with those of US: its length should depend on achievements and good-will [Page 1017] of Germans; (4) agreed that occupying powers must retain initiative: Germans must not be allowed to feel they are setting pace by obstructionism and pressure.

Schuman said that on this basis we could contemplate modifying occupation statute at agreed date (October) but that we should start now joint studies on requisite measures in order to be ready for autumn. Agreeing that HICOG’s authority must be reinforced he suggested expression of government’s solidarity with their HICOGs be included in communiqué from London in order to dispel prevailing impression in Bonn that wedge could be driven between HICOGs and governments. Schuman agreed to time-table idea if we agreed not to inform Germans: we had had enough trouble as result of setting definite term to re-examination occupation statute.

I agreed we should not inform Germans of time-table.

Schuman, assuming my previous remark about disunity in HICOM referred divergence and appeal by French to governments re Law 75,5 explained that parliament decision had obliged French to take this position. He added that HICOM’s history showed such crises occurred seldom and assured me that France’s policy will be for united front in Germany and this is essential if we are to overcome German endeavors to break this front. He expressed optimism for success in integrating Germany into West, best proof of which was fact that this policy now had received approval in public opinion of three countries. As for France, despite three invasions by Germany he was proud to note French people had accepted a policy of cooperation and reconciliation with Germany as progressive as that of any other power.

Explained to Schuman that my remark about free-wheeling had not referred to action of François-Poncet (who was present) but to that of another high commissioner, adding that no HICOG could be criticized for carrying out instructions of his government.

While we agreed to reserve discussion of specific German problems for tripartite meeting, Schuman wished to play bilateral issue re control powers over new state or states which would emerge from fusion of Baden and Württemberg, which he said was not immediate.

I indicated that at London I would take strong position looking toward concerted action to forestall serious trouble in Berlin on May 28.6 Schuman said he thought USSR would not push things too far if Western powers took proper precautions.

Schuman then referred to question of US press statement re Indo-china and suggested certain changes in our text to which I agreed. [Page 1018] (Changes were later telephoned to Department and agreed text appears in Embtel 2184, repeated London 615.7)

Schuman and I agreed that nothing should be given to press other than US Indochina statement which French would publicly welcome. They would not issue parallel statement of their own. Otherwise our line would be that these talks were purely preparatory for tripartite conversations in London.

Before breaking up, I made final plea to Schuman—saying I would make same plea to Bevin—for French contribution to Palestine Refugee Agency. Schuman explained that until French budget was passed, he could not introduce bill for supplementary appropriations to cover PRA but hoped to do so in June.

Sent Department; repeated London 617, Frankfort 313.

  1. Supra.
  2. The meeting was held from 3:00 to 5:30 p. m. at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition to the five members present at the morning session, Merchant, Harriman, McCloy, Byroade, Wallner, and the Honorable John Sherman Cooper, Special Adviser to the Secretary, participated for the United States and the French Delegation was enlarged by the presence of Bérard and François-Poncet. A copy of the French Delegation minutes of this meeting was transmitted as enclosure 2 to despatch 1065, from Paris, May 12, not printed (396.1 LO/5–2250).
  3. For further documentation on French Prime Minister Bidault’s proposal for a North Atlantic High Council of Peace, see pp. 54 ff.
  4. According to the minutes referred to in footnote 2, Secretary Acheson meant the announcement by a High Commissioner (presumably Sir Brian Robertson) to the press that he was “not making common cause with his two colleagues.”
  5. US/UK Military Government Law No. 75, “Reorganization of German Coal and Iron and Steel Industries.”
  6. Documentation on the Deutschlandtreffen in Berlin, May 26–28, is scheduled for publication in volume iv.
  7. Not printed; for the text of this statement as released to the press at 7:00 p. m. (Paris time), see editorial note, vol. vi, p. 812.