396.1–LO/3–1150: Telegram

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


Secto 230. (Section one of two.)

Following is summary first tripartite session with Bevin in chair.1
Discussed and agreed decide end each, day what could be announced and along what lines, either as agreed communiqué or in press briefings. Acheson suggested and agreement reached that would release as much as possible each day to avoid news glut on Saturday.
Item 1. Review objectives in light assessment current situation. MIN/TRI/P/1.2 Schuman said in general agreement but state of mind on continent should be remembered. Presentation Western position to world very important. During recent weeks Commie’s orchestrated program for peace had made certain impression even on non-Commies. Very important increase our strength and ability resist and at same time stress human and democratic rights and devotion to peace. Tension and weariness growing on continent and this not best climate in which to get necessary efforts accepted by publics. In France East–West split more and more emphasized. One of main objects should be to allay anxiety and spike notion another war inevitable. Should not lull people but show need pool efforts and keep watch and let truth be known. Make clear that stronger we are less inevitable war becomes, that Stalin got ahead of us in preparedness, and that not our fault if possibility of conflict grown daily because of Cominform, subversion and similar activities. Indicate that there is some reason for anxiety but that we are taking that into account in our planning. Should not be too much talk of cold war. Should refuse countenance cold as well as hot war or that either inevitable and accept either only as obliged to. He thought this deserved attention in communiqué. He noted that there was some anti-American propaganda on continent arising from foregoing which all governments would counter to best their ability. Finally, there existed a certain temptation to neutrality in France. Though false and dangerous idea, it showed need to strengthen public opinion if public to support necessary measures. Communiqué could strengthen government hands in dealing with this kind propaganda, which was not all Commie propaganda.
Acheson clarified point that Ministers were not adopting paper as fundamental document or planning make it public. Should merely note that it contained good analysis of situation confronting West and statement of objectives we all hold. He would have been happier if paper put more stress on need for quick action. Were several points to realize and act upon:
Should recognize dangers in situation which confronts us. Soviet Union has put so much of national income into preparedness that it has wide gap between its readiness and West’s. Corrective [Page 1035] action necessary if West not to reach point where consequences will flow from great disparity in military strength. So one of first action points is to make progress toward interim plan drawn up by Defense Ministers.3 This is matter requiring immediate action for plan not a long-term but a mid-term plan.
Follows that it is urgent to create economic foundation to support necessary military effort and the conditions of life in the West. Important to increase production and productivity, by national and international action.
Follows that question of making full use of German production also matter of urgency. German economy had great potentialities and actual power, which should be drawn to service of West. How to accomplish this is matter to which we should give attention.
In reviewing many pressing problems everywhere, necessary to have idea of priority. Heart of matter is vitality and strength of West, including relations in North Atlantic area. This takes first priority.
But problems of Asia very important also. This is more of a holding operation until strength at center built up. Would be difficult to advance in two great areas at once. Should maintain position in East and be careful not to lose there while building in West.
Question how our action presented to world very important. Should present action to increase strength in way that makes clear we have no aggressive intent. Schuman’s ideas seem good. Show that strength greatest assurance of peace. There are all the dangers he mentioned: idea of neutrality, irritation towards US, notion that ideological conflict makes war inevitable. All these should be countered with truth.
Organization. This not an end in itself but tool to make action possible. Want whatever is necessary to achieve action on problems requiring action.
Acheson closed by saying his remarks not to be understood as being in conflict with paper but as underlining points he thought deserved emphasis.
Bevin thought there was no great divergence of view. Items in paper seemed generally acceptable though not as formal paper or agreement. As to presentation he thought necessary to present Western position in different ways in different places. Commie problems on continent do make necessary there a different treatment than in US or UK. Called attention to enormous areas of world not organically linked to West where it was necessary to win support and other great areas in which there was uncertainty, where Communism not accepted but great pressure being brought and situation disturbing. Commies can take line best suited their purposes and disregard different lines they take elsewhere whereas West must stick to fundamental truths. He liked Acheson’s 7 points. Would like to see principal [Page 1036] points in paper and [take] these points into account as guide in joint study of presentation Western case to world. Asked if this could be taken as conclusion of discussion item 1 and Schuman and Acheson agreed.
Item 2. General attitude towards Soviet Union. MIN/TRI/P/4.4 Bevin said this something that needed to be faced. Many who believe that if we only went to Moscow we could negotiate, and who do not seem to realize fundamental difference between Soviet approach to life and Western.
Schuman said all were skeptical about negotiations. We were at an impasse. Soviet Union did not wish or attempt to discuss anything. United Nations slowly dying as result Soviet attitude and this cause for real apprehension. Soviet policy in satellites and China designed deepen split. Speaking freely, for French Government has not taken decision to recognize Chinese Communists, is there any way to get out of present UN situation? Problem closely related Indochina. Also Mao does not appear to be seeking recognition or to normalize relations. So problem of recognition not acute for France, but problem of Chinese representation in Security Council causes much anxiety. Not really question admission China for in by charter, but could almost be viewed as problem of verification credentials and perhaps might be helpful to view in this way. Should not allow problem to grow too much. Nationalists only represent small territory and that not really Chinese, but Japanese until treaty. Problem may become difficult even before meeting General Assembly, for example on question admission new members. Paper recommends in paragraph 11 that our representatives in New York consider in August. But is it likely that we will have made much progress by then? This is a very awkward state of facts to which we should not close our eyes. Finally, as to paragraph 4, and question of negotiations, French doubt that discussion can best be held in SC. SC would provide contacts but not opportunity for confidential discussions. So SC might furnish opportunity for discussions outside, or on margin, as it were, of SC.
At this point meeting adjourned until 3:30 p. m.

(Section two of two.)

Acheson said he understood Schuman’s suggestion to mean that we should not wait until August for representatives in NY to begin study of problem.5 Acheson saw no objection to discussions right away [Page 1037] provided it was clear what they were to discuss. He thought that questions to be discussed related to UN:
Can SC function with a permanent member absent?
Problem of secretary general. Is it conceivable that anyone other than Lie can do job?
Problem new members. Is it wise to proceed on this question?
There are other questions relating to UN which could be considered and on which we should try to get joint view. As to recognition of Chinese Communist regime, Acheson thought that was a question on which there were very few prospects that any progress could be made by joint discussions. Subject not tabu but there was nothing to be accomplished now. Soviet Union have insisted that their point of view be accepted. This is threat and coercion to which it is almost impossible to yield. Did not believe that it would be in interest of UN to give Russians ground to believe that all they had to do to force adoption their viewpoint was to exert pressure. Russian position probably not primarily related to UN but attempt to use UN to put pressure on West in Southeast Asia. To yield on recognition might have serious implications for West in that area. Also, Mao in no hurry, as Schuman pointed out and might find ourselves in humiliating position of having yielded only to be treated contemptuously, for Mao might remain out of UN. If this were only quarrel over credentials, much to be said for argument that one side represents more Chinese than other. But much more than that, and question cannot be separated from whole question of recognition and protection vital interests in Southeast Asia. This question may be one in which passage of time may be helpful (situation may move one way or another). UK-Chinese discussions may clarify. We don’t know yet what will happen in Formosa.
Bevin said we had two questions.
General attitude towards Soviet Union. As to building strength, he understood this to mean not just military strength but also economic. If we ever negotiate with Russia a sound economy in rest of world important as demonstration our way of life best.
As to China, the Communists were trying to make question of voting on admission by UK test of UK’s sincerity in recognition. UK had not taken positive line in NY. Had tried to accommodate themselves. Had tried to get majority, but until this obtained, had not intended to vote. Communists also making same issue over treatment aircraft in Hong Kong. Doubtful whether Communists intend to go ahead or not in giving effect to our recognition. Situation not satisfactory. However, he was in some difficulty on the UN question. Felt that Communists had pretty good case. Control far more territory than Nationalists. He wondered what legal or even moral grounds [Page 1038] there were for refusing recognize that fact. Difficult for him to acknowledge that Chiang could claim to represent China. Question was whether we should go ahead on three points Acheson mentioned to develop joint position and leave question Chinese representation in hands governments.
All agreed go ahead on three Acheson points.
Acheson said glad to talk about representation here or NY. If there was any trick by which it could be solved that would be fine. But US regarded question as one linked to major matters of foreign policy. Austin6 did not have authority to decide it. Acheson could discuss but not decide. Situation apparently is that there is no practical or likely way for UK to get majority without positive action by US and US is not going to take this action. From our viewpoint, Soviet Union possesses position of domination in China which it is using to threaten Indochina, push in Malaya, stir up trouble in Philippines, and now to start trouble in Indonesia. So we do not regard as just a legal question involving UN. Think admission might be more dangerous because of jeopardy in which it could put our position in Southeast Asia than continued impasse in UN. But situation might clarify. If UK completely repulsed, it might revise its position. France not likely change its because of Indochina. Do not mean only way to get a majority is for US to change its position. Two votes needed, but France not likely to change. We have repeatedly informed Cuba and Ecuador that we are not trying to influence their position, but they do not wish to take a different position.
Schuman thought exchange had been helpful. He did not want force issue. But if no definite position can be taken now, he would like to have the three representatives discuss if and when any government takes up a new position.
Bevin said Acheson’s three points would be referred to three representatives in NY and that China admission question would be left until one of the three governments notified the other two that it wanted to discuss the question. This was agreed.
Bevin then referred to Lie’s proposal for periodic meeting of SC to solve cold war or heat it up. He didn’t know which. Perhaps would wait to see results Lie’s trip to Moscow. Anyway, previous problem has to be solved before such a meeting possible. This view was accepted by all.
Acheson referred to paragraphs on Yugoslavia. Its economic situation not improving fast as we had hoped. He had noted in press that International Bank not going ahead with loan. So might be urgent extend economic assistance. French had run into trouble with [Page 1039] creditor claims. US and UK had had same problem but had gone ahead anyway. Perhaps three powers could concert action to provide some economic assistance.
Schuman said French Government prepared contribute to reaching agreement and finding solution. Could not abandon French claims but would take a practical view. Bevin said that if three powers all took this view, they should be able to help.
Schuman wished to underline importance suggestion in paragraph 16. Thought France and UK could make more use of refugees. Selection important, but they had not sufficiently explored possibility. He was glad to see proposal for coordinated approach. In this connection he wondered whether they might not be helped by ERP funds. There were considerable sums available for propaganda purposes. Three powers were anxious to use propaganda to give true picture of ERP program to satellites.
Bevin thought this suggestion could be passed along.
Acheson said he would be glad to consider it and to discuss it with Harriman.
Bevin turned to MIN/TRI/P/67 on continuous consultation. Paper set out a code of conduct with which all agreed but which should not be formally adopted. Could agree among the three that every attempt should be made to reach understanding and agreement and in general to cooperate.
Schuman thought such contacts should be as unspectacular as possible. With this comment he was in agreement with paper.
Acheson fully agreed with recommendations. Thought paragraph relating to meeting before SC session in fall could be included in today’s communiqué. If announced now, then if meeting held in fall, it would be clear that it was not because there was a crisis. This view accepted by Bevin and Schuman.
Separate telegram covers remainder afternoon session.8

Sent Department Secto 230; repeated Paris 828.

  1. The meeting was held at 11:30 a. m. at Lancaster House. Attending for the United States were Secretary Acheson, Douglas, Cooper, Jessup, Bruce, Harriman, and Perkins; for the French, Foreign Minister Schuman, Parodi, Massigli, Alphand, de Margerie, and Lebel; and for the British, Foreign Secretary Bevin, Younger, Strang, Davies, and Jebb. The records of decisions for the six ministerial meetings are in Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: Cf 21.
  2. Dated May 6, p. 1075.
  3. For documentation on the NATO interim defense plan, see pp. 1 ff.
  4. Dated May 9, p. 1078.
  5. The afternoon session was held at Lancaster House at 3:30 p. m. In addition to those present at the morning session, McCloy for the United States and Makins for the British attended the afternoon meeting.
  6. Warren R. Austin, United States Representative at the United Nations.
  7. This paper read:

    “The following suggestions have been put forward during the preparatory discussions and are submitted for approval by the Ministers:

    “Consultation between the three powers should be more frequent and better organized without, however, creating any new machinery. In particular:

    “(a) The three Foreign Ministers should agree to try to meet each other two or three times a year. These meetings need not be regular but should be held with sufficient regularity so that they are regarded as normal practice, not exciting public opinion. Use should be made of the United Nations meetings at which Ministers are present.

    “(b) The principle should be established that the Foreign Minister of each country should receive the Ambassadors of the other two countries for joint discussions of appropriate subjects. This should not interfere with the normal channels of discussion on particular topics.

    “(c) The representatives of the three Powers on any organ of the North Atlantic Treaty organization should also keep in touch with each other as appropriate.

    “(d) There should be intensified co-operation within the United Nations Organization between the three countries. This would include even closer cooperation between our delegations during meetings of the General Assembly and also increased consultation between our permanent representatives at the seat of the United Nations. This should also apply to the Specialized Agencies.

    “(e) At the conclusion of the Tripartite talks in London the communiqué should indicate the intention of the three Ministers to meet again in the near future, possibly in New York before the next meeting of the General Assembly.” (Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: CF 20)

  8. Secto 231, infra.