396.1 LO/5–1050: Telegram

The United States Delegation at the Tripartite Foreign Ministers Meeting to the Acting Secretary of State


Secto 217. Following summary of second part fourth session US–UK ministerial conversations held this afternoon:

1. East-West Trade: Secretary opened subject with brief explanation difference between 1–a and 1–b lists; latter not prohibited [Page 1032] but subject qualitative control. Recognized control affected balances payments as well as security; there were differences even among “the soldiers” on security significance. We were pressing for agreement which we would like to get as close to US position as possible. Explained we unable do more by way of control than other countries do; said it was foolish to give USSR economic advantages this trade.

Bevin thought we were close together. Bohlen explained we were far apart on question of pre-consultation versus post-review.

In reply Bevin’s question what we wanted them to do, Secretary said discussions are going on among experts but they unable decide issue of military importance denying trucks, for example, as against loss of trade. Hence question drags along on official level. Decision involves elements of judgment. We wanted list reviewed, troublesome issues identified and raised to ministerial level for decision.

Makins said UK felt US efforts to transfer items from 1–b to 1–a were in effect tantamount to asking for change in policy.

Secretary replied we wanted get away from words and to the real question: How much harm does this control do to you? It obviously does some good. Where does balance lie?

Bevin repeated he thought they were up with us; he would take up matter with Board of Trade.

French announcement on steel and coal:1 Secretary referred his talk with Webb;2 said our view was Secretary should make some statement. Showed Bevin proposed text as follows:

“The announcement yesterday by the French Government of proposals concerning the joint utilization of the coal and steel of France and Germany in an association open to other countries is a most important development. It is plain from the announcement that the spirit prompting it was the furtherance of rapprochement between Germany and France and progress towards the economic integration of Western Europe. These are objectives which have long been favored by the Government of the US. While it is obvious that through analysis and final judgment regarding the proposals must await the availability of details concerning it, Secretary recognizes with sympathy and approval the significance and far-reaching intent of the French initiative.”

Bevin said following had been prepared this noon for background guidance Foreign Office News Department:

HMG had no notice until yesterday of the French Cabinet coming to a conclusion on this problem and they have therefore had no time to go into the matter or arrive at any conclusion. It is an important proposal at this moment when the whole problem of Europe and the Atlantic community is under active consideration. HMG have always been anxious that a permanent solution of the age-long feud between [Page 1033] France and Germany should be found. All the implications of any such scheme must, however, receive most detailed study.”

Secretary indicated two comments very close, Secretary’s would be given out in form of statement.

3. Continuing consultation: Secretary indicated he had not read MIN/UKUS/P/5 word by word, but that he had two thoughts which he wished to put forward: (1) the paper recognized the need for close working relationship and that we will continue to consult together. With that he was in full agreement; it was vital that our policies be as closely as possible in accord, we would continue as in past in close cooperation; (2) as to an agreed paper, he felt that undesirable. Willing to reiterate to Bevin our purpose of continuing consultation but did not want anything which could be misrepresented by critical comment as a secret agreement between two governments. Bevin agreed.3

4. Declaration: Secretary said would be glad to have people go to work on a declaration; if there is one it must be good; otherwise better none. Ought not cover every conceivable point but should be drafted from propaganda point of view; should be in most appealing and effective form. Bevin agreed work should begin this basis. Jebb explained French desire indicate willingness negotiate settlement (with USSR). Bevin rejected; said should not be in declaration; would be misunderstood. Reference this point could be made in twelve-power communiqué.

Sent Department Secto 217, repeated Paris 815.

  1. For documentation on Schuman’s proposal for pooling the coal and steel industries of Western Europe, see pp. 691 ff.
  2. The conversation under reference here has not been identified further.
  3. In a memorandum earlier in the day, Jessup had made the recommendation that MIN/UKUS/P/5 (p. 1072) not be approved before Secretary Acheson had “had a chance to study it in the light of the indications of the British attitude.” Jessup referred to the “strong feelings” which Bohlen, Bruce, and Harriman had expressed about its implications and what the British might “be trying to read into the paper beyond its exact language.” Memorandum for the Secretary, May 10, not printed (CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 150: US–UK relations).