Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: CF 32


The Ambassador at Large (Jessup) to the Secretary of State 2

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Subject: US–UK Talks—July 20–24, 1950

The attached memorandum contains the summary of the main points covered in the US–UK talks which General Bradley and I conducted with Sir Oliver Franks and Lord Tedder.

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I attach also the summary notes made by Mr. Yost which cover the matters in greater detail but which it is probably unnecessary for you to take the time to read unless you wish to do so.3

The following are my conclusions concerning the utility of the talks, the most important points which emerged, and the further steps along the same lines which remain to be taken.

I. Utility of the Talks

These talks were the latest in a series of similar exploratory conversations. The talks in 1947 and 1949 dealt with the Middle East.4 The talks in London in May of this year covered Europe, the Middle East and the Far East including the Pacific area. The talks in London resulted in a common conclusion concerning the identity of interest of the U.S. and the U.K. generally throughout the world. The corollary of this conclusion was the view that our policies should be coordinated so far as possible. The talks just concluded in Washington have carried this a step further. We have identified the chief danger spots and have examined them in the light of the Korean aggression. These talks did not reach the point of agreed common plans of action in specific situations but laid the groundwork for such joint planning.

II. Most Important Points Which Emerged

a. the far east

It was clear that a principal British preoccupation was that the United States should not become so committed in the Far East as to weaken its ability to contribute to the defense of Europe and to the Middle East. While we pointed to the importance of our strategic interests in the Pacific area, it was common ground that at this juncture we would both wish to avoid extensive commitment of forces in the Far East. With this end in view we shared the opinion that in so far as possible involvements with the Chinese Communists should be localized. We pointed out, however, how difficult this might be under certain circumstances. In our opinion the UK underestimates the closeness of the Moscow–Peiping axis. They have not previously appreciated the extent to which overt Chinese Communist aggression would be another indication of an overall Soviet plan. Our exposition [Page 1659] on this point and especially in regard to Formosa gave the British considerable satisfaction. The British told us that they would be unable to defend Hong Kong against a full-scale communist attack. They pointed to the serious military consequences of the loss of Hong Kong in case of general conflict in the Far East but they did not suggest that we would be in a position to give them support in any way which would affect the military outcome. It seemed to me that they were in a frame of mind to swallow the loss of Hong Kong without any vigorous reaction. It was only under the pressure of questioning that they finally admitted that this event might involve them in a real state of war with the Chinese Communists. It was implicitly understood that we did not expect their assistance in the defense of Formosa.

Regarding the Japanese Peace Treaty, General Bradley gave them a very frank description of the difficulties which the U.S. Joint Chiefs had faced in considering the terms of a treaty but indicated that their doubts had now been resolved and that it was merely a preoccupation with the immediate problems of Korea which now delayed moving forward to the conclusion of a treaty. General Bradley told me privately that he thought it would be possible forthwith to reach a sufficient degree of agreement between State and Defense to make it possible to proceed with plans for international consultations and the eventual peace conference.

b. the middle east

The U.K. representatives at first shied away from a reiteration of the previous understanding that they had the “primary responsibility” in this area. A frank discussion, however, swept away the semantic difficulty of defining the term “primary responsibility” and they agreed that this was an area in which we should look to them to take the initiative in regard to any steps which needed to be carried out. At the same time they registered the hope that we would study the question whether we could not give them more support in case of need. It was interesting to me that both Lord Tedder and General Bradley believed that the Israeli army would be the most effective force south of Turkey which could be utilized for delaying action.

c. europe

The British placed the Berlin situation at the top of their list of danger spots. Although they originally included Western Germany in the same category (which led me to think that they might be arguing here in favor of their general stand on German rearmament), they [Page 1660] later scaled down their estimate on Western Germany and did not continue to press the question of German rearmament when we pointed to the current discussion of the High Commissioners on the matter of increasing the German police.5

d. machinery for coordination in war

General Bradley and Lord Tedder were agreed that the Standing Group of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would in case of war be the most suitable equivalent of the Combined Staff during World War II.

III. Further Steps To Be Taken

The last page of the attached Agreed Memorandum on the talks lists eight actions to be recommended. The appropriate officers of the Department will move forward with plans for the consideration and implementation of these recommendations. It seems to me important that we should move forward at once to the point of agreeing upon detailed plans of action in case of further aggression by satellites or by Soviet forces in the various situations indicated particularly in points 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The situation is certainly sufficiently critical to necessitate our being ready to act almost instantaneously in the event of further Soviet aggression. It is highly desirable that the action we take be joint or common action with the U.K. It seems to me the time has passed for being content with general statements about “common action” and “appeal to the Security Council.” General Bradley did not hesitate to discuss the question of the kind of machinery we would need as an equivalent to the Combined Chiefs of Staff in World War II; it would seem to me that combined advance planning on detailed actions is equally feasible and necessary. In this connection it may be worth noting that Lord Tedder repeatedly pressed for frank exchange of information between our military mission in Turkey and their military attachés. He indicated that our officers are advising the Turks on strategic plans but the British, while given a primary responsibility in the area, are not told anything about this and are ignorant of the Turkish strategy. For some reason which I could not fathom, General Bradley persistently declined to commit himself to closer cooperation on this point.

Philip C. Jessup
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Agreed United States–United Kingdom Memorandum of Discussions on the Present World Situation6

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U.S./U.K. Discussions on Present World Situation

1. Following is a summary of discussions held in Washington between July 20 and July 24, between General Omar N. Bradley and Ambassador Philip C. Jessup, representing the United States, and Sir Oliver Franks and Lord Tedder representing the United Kingdom. Mr. Charles W. Yost, Colonel L. K. Ladue, Mr. M. E. Dening, Major General Redman and Captain R. D. Coleridge, R.N.7 were also present.

Terms of Reference

2. The conversations were purely exploratory and involved no commitments by governments. It was understood that there would be no definitive or detailed discussion of areas in which third parties have a primary interest.

far east

3. The U.K. representatives emphasized the importance which their government attached to avoiding any further major involvement of Western forces on the Asiatic mainland. They therefore expressed the hope that any new conflicts which might break out in the Far East might be localized and not be allowed to develop into general war, either with the Soviet Union or with Communist China. The U.S. representatives agreed as to the desirability of this objective but pointed out certain possible cases of aggression, as noted below, which it might be difficult or even impossible to localize.

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Chinese Communists

4. The U.K. representatives particularly stressed the advantages of localizing any possible conflict between the U.S. or the U.K. on the one hand and the Chinese communists on the other; first, for the reason set forth in the preceding paragraph and, second, in order that a possible gradual drift of the Chinese communist regime away from Moscow might not be interrupted.

5. It was agreed that further study should be given by the U.S. and the U.K. to the question whether an overt large-scale involvement of the Chinese communists in Korea or a large-scale Chinese communist attack on any other state or territory should, as being indicative of a Soviet intention to force the issue, be considered as raising the immediate question of general war.


6. The U.S. representatives stressed the political and military importance of the contribution of ground forces to the campaign in Korea by as large a number of nations as possible. They pointed out, on the military side, that the campaign would presumably last for some months and that it was important that, when the counteroffensive was undertaken, it be carried out with very strong forces in order that the North Korean army could be destroyed to the maximum extent possible before our forces reach the 38th parallel. The U.K. representatives declared that they had not hitherto considered that any forces which they might be able to contribute could reach the theatre of operations in time to be used. In light, however, of the statement by the U.S. representatives that the campaign would be long and that very considerable land forces would be needed, they would represent to London the points made by the U.S. representatives.

7. The U.S. representatives expressed the view that careful study should be given to the question of the eventual solution of the Korean problem, particularly what will happen when UN forces reach the 38th parallel and what forces will remain in Korea after the end of hostilities. They indicated that this would be a question for consideration by the UN.

8. It appeared to be the view of both U.S. and U.K. representatives, as an exception to the general proposition stated above, that, if Soviet forces should interfere overtly on a large scale in Korea, this action would raise the immediate question of general war. The U.S. representative made it clear that they had no intention of fighting a major war in Korea. Should war occur, it was their intention to fight in accordance with our agreed over-all strategy.

9. It was agreed that further study should be given to the question of whether or not overt intervention of the Chinese communists in [Page 1663] Korea should also raise the immediate question of general war. The U.K. representatives were inclined to consider such an intervention by the Chinese communists unlikely since the Chinese would not act solely at Soviet direction unless they gained some material advantage to themselves. The U.S. representatives, however, believing that Peiping is at the present time under very strong Kremlin influence and that the Kremlin might wish to involve the Chinese communists in hostilities with the West, considered such a possible involvement less unlikely.


10. The British representatives expressed a strong hope that any hostilities arising from a Chinese communist attack on Formosa would be localized. The U.S. representatives replied that it is their desire and intention that any such hostilities be localized. In view of the character of the President’s statement of 27 June,8 there was reason to believe that there would be no invasion of the mainland in connec-nection with a Communist attack on Formosa. The U.K. representatives stated they were in full agreement with this intention to localize any such hostilities.

Hong Kong

11. The British representatives stated that their forces in Hong Kong are adequate to resist internal disturbances or a small-scale attack from without, but they are not adequate to hold off a full-scale attack by the Chinese communists. Should such an attack occur, it would presumably lead to an appeal to the UN, but nevertheless the U.K. representatives would hope that the hostilities might be localized.


12. It was considered that action could not be taken to assist the Portuguese in case Macao were attacked. The U.K. representative stated that they have already intimated to the Portuguese that the U.K. would not be able to assist in these circumstances.


13. The U.S. representatives pointed out the fact that the U.S. occupied naval and air bases in the islands. Elsewhere in the discussions it was brought out that the Philippines constitute the southern end of the U.S.–Japan–Okinawa–Philippine stopline.

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14. It was understood that the U.S. and U.K. would assist the French to the extent of their abilities in case of a Chinese communist attack, but the probability would be great that neither could provide forces for this purpose. There was no further discussion of the Indochina problem in the absence of the French, though further tripartite discussions were considered to be necessary.


15. It was understood that neither the U.S. nor the U.K. could provide forces to Burma in case of attack and that it is unlikely, though not impossible, that India or Pakistan would do so. In regard to action to be taken it was understood that the U.K. would take the initiative.


16. The U.K. representatives said that they did not expect to be able to reduce their forces in Malaya during the next twelve months but hoped to do so after that time. It was generally agreed that an early and favorable resolution of the Korean situation would have a salutary effect on the Malayan problem.


17. It was generally agreed that Siam would bend with the wind.


18. Interest was expressed by both parties in proceeding with joint preliminary political discussions of the Japanese peace treaty at a relatively early date.


19. It was agreed that Afghanistan could not be effectively assisted in case of invasion by the Soviets.

middle east

20. The British representatives pointed out the difficulties, considering the forces now available, of their assisting, other than to a certain extent with air forces, in the defense of the outer ring of the Middle East, that is, primarily Iran and Turkey. In spite of the fact that the loss to the Soviets of either of these countries might have a fatal effect on other countries, such as Iraq, the U.K. would be obliged, in case of general war, to concentrate on the defense of the inner core which is centered in and about Egypt. They stated that satisfactory agreement with Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa was now in prospect for the use of Commonwealth forces in the Middle East in case of war, subject of course to final approval by governments at the time. The United States Representative recalled the common [Page 1665] view expressed in previous U.K.–U.S. conversations that in this area the U.K. would take the initiative in regard to any action which would be taken. The U.K. Representative, while not dissenting from this view, expressed the hope that the U.S. would give consideration to what further steps it might be able to take in case of need.


21. The U.K. representatives emphasized the vital importance of Iran in the entire Near East strategic picture and stated the view, both that they consider there is risk of a Soviet attack on Iran, and that such an attack would infringe a stopline. It was agreed that an overt Soviet attack on Iran would raise an immediate question of general war. While the U.S. pointed out that the defense of Iran must be primarily a British responsibility, it was agreed that the U.K. and the U.S. should consult together in regard to a means of meeting this problem.

22. The U.S. and U.K. should, insofar as possible, assist the Iranian Government to strengthen its position and should consider what steps should be taken in the event of an uprising in Azerbaijan or a coup d’état by the Tudeh Party. It was agreed that the U.S. and U.K. should study the question of whether the loss of Azerbaijan alone to the Soviets would be fatal, and at exactly what point in Iran the stopline should be laid down.

23. The question of demolition of Iranian oil wells in case of Soviet attack was discussed and the U.K. representatives stated that their government is examining ways and means of dealing with this matter.


24. It was agreed that the only serious threat to Turkey is an overt Soviet attack and that such an attack would raise an immediate question of general war. The view was expressed that the Turks could deal with an attack by Bulgaria alone but that this matter should receive further study. It was pointed out that, since France as well as the U.K. has a treaty of alliance with Turkey, these questions should be discussed with the French.



25. It was agreed that urgent study should be given to the question as to what action could and should be taken in case of a Bulgar attack on Greece. It was understood that, in case of renewal of the civil war, aid to the Greek Government along the present lines should be increased. It was further agreed that the U.S. and U.K. should support maintenance of UNSCOB observation along the northern Greek frontier at full strength.

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26. It was the view of both U.S. and U.K. representatives that an attack on Yugoslavia by satellites or even Soviet forces would not raise the immediate question of a general war. In case of an attack, military and other equipment would, insofar as feasible, be supplied to the Yugoslavs but no forces would be sent there.


27. The view was expressed that a successful attack on Yugoslavia would raise a question as to whether U.S. and U.K. forces should be withdrawn from Trieste. This question would have to be examined from both the military and political point of view.


28. It was understood that an attack on Western forces in Austria by the Soviets would mean war. The possibility of a blockade of Vienna was also considered.


29. The U.K. representatives expressed the view that a threat to Berlin should be placed at the top of the list of danger points. It was agreed that urgent study should be given to the capability of allied forces in Germany to resist an attack, either on West Germany or on the western sectors of Berlin, by East German paramilitary forces, as well as to whether such an attack could be successfully resisted without involving the Soviets. This danger also emphasized the importance of taking prompt measures to strengthen West German police forces. It was pointed out that this problem is being studied by the three High Commissioners in Germany but that the French have so far been reluctant to agree to the necessary measures.

30. It was agreed that in case of renewal of the Berlin blockade there should, for political reasons, be a prompt reaction, in the form of reestablishment of the air lift, even though on the reduced basis which present commitments elsewhere would make necessary. The view was expressed that an attempt to supply Berlin by surface convoy would not be successful. However in view of the vital importance of holding Berlin, it was agreed that the possibility of resorting to convoy should be reexamined.


31. It was not anticipated that in case of an attack by the Soviets action would be taken to assist Finland.


32. The view was expressed that an attack on Sweden would be likely to result in general war, in view of the effect of such an attack on two NAT states, Norway and Denmark.

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general topics

33. The United States representatives noted in regard to the foregoing detailed analyses of specific cases that basic policy considerations should not be overlooked in estimating immediate capabilities. Basic policy requires that aggression anywhere should be resisted; capabilities at any given moment may determine the kind of resistance and its staging. They called attention to the President’s statement to Congress that “new recourse to aggression in the world today might well strain to the breaking point the fabric of world peace”. The present aggression in Korea and the implications of Soviet policy inherent in it, already require not only joint planning regarding other danger spots but also actual vigorous steps to increase rapidly the capabilities of both the United States and the United Kingdom and other free countries to meet possible further cases of aggression. If any further major aggressive moves develop anywhere, it will, in the view of the U.S. representatives, be necessary for all immediately to intensify further their general preparations since the risk of total war would be greatly increased.

Soviet Intentions

34. The U.S. representatives stated that they were not in agreement with the view expressed in a British intelligence estimate that the Soviets would not be prepared to engage in general war before 1955. On the contrary, U.S. representatives felt that they might be so prepared by 1952, or even earlier, and that prior to that time they would probably attempt to cause the maximum difficulties short of general war. The U.K. representatives explained that they did not feel that the Soviet Union could not or indeed might not start a war before 1955 but rather that 1955 onward was the period when the Soviet Union would be most likely to take serious risks of provoking a major war. In view of the divergence on this most important question it was agreed that the intelligence teams of the U.K. and U.S. should meet forthwith to discuss this matter and attempt to arrive at an agreed paper on the subject.

35. The U.K. representatives then drew attention to the importance of the two countries agreeing on an over-all global strategy. It was agreed that following the intelligence conference it would be desirable for the U.K. and U.S. Chiefs of Staff to meet in order to discuss this over-all problem. The U.S. representatives pointed out that the U.S. Chiefs of Staff might visit unified commands in Europe later this year and that an opportunity might then be found to visit London for the above-mentioned discussions.

Higher Direction in War

36. The U.S. representatives expressed the view that the problem of higher direction in war should be examined. In the present circum-stances [Page 1668] it might be thought that the standing group of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should assume the responsibility in war, though it was pointed out that in order to do so it should undergo a definite change in character in order to have the appropriate representation. The U.K. representative stated that the thoughts of the British Chiefs of Staff were almost exactly the same but care should be exercised not to offend the sensibilities of the Canadians and others.

Deception Planning

37. The U.K. representatives stressed the immense value of deception planning in the last war. It seemed vitally important that British and American policy in this field should be carefully coordinated in order that the one might not cancel out the other. It was agreed that the Cover and Deception representatives of the two countries should meet in order to exchange views.

Propaganda and Psychological Warfare

38. The importance of coordinating U.S. and U.K. policies in these fields was pointed out. It was noted that Assistant Secretary Barrett had already discussed these matters with the appropriate U.K. authorities in London and it was agreed that close coordination along these lines should be continued.9 It was also noted that the NAT deputies are charged with concerting policies in these fields insofar as NAT matters are concerned.


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Actions To Be Recommended10

A comprehensive study of the effects of overt large-scale Chinese communist intervention in Korea or attack upon any other state or territory, particularly with a view to determining whether or not such intervention or attack could be localized or would lead to general war.
An examination, within the UN framework, of the eventual disposition of the Korean problem, including the maintenance of UN [Page 1669] forces in South Korea, possible reoccupation of North Korea by the Soviets, and the problem of ultimate unification of the country.
An examination of the whole Middle East problem, covering both political and military aspects, without prejudice as to what nations should provide the forces required in the various eventualities.
An urgent study of the Iranian situation in order to determine where a stopline should be laid down, what forces might be utilized in the area in case of a Soviet attack, and where those forces might be obtained. This study should include the problem of conservation or denial of the oil areas in the event of Soviet invasion.
A study to determine the capability of allied forces in West Germany and in the western sectors of Berlin to withstand an attack by the East German forces. Such study should include an estimate as to whether such an attack could be successfully resisted without involving the Soviets.
A study of the capability of Bulgarian forces, without Soviet participation, successfully to invade Greece and defeat the Greek Army. This study would involve a determination of what assistance could be given to Greece in case of such an attack.
A planned Joint Intelligence conference with the object of arriving at an estimate on Soviet capabilities and intentions, to be followed, if appropriate, by a meeting between the U.K. and U.S. Chiefs of Staff for discussions in regard to global strategy.
A conference between U.S. and U.K. military representatives concerned with the problem of cover and deception to be held in Washington.

Note: Details concerning the manner and timing of any consultations or conferences on the foregoing matters will be arranged through the usual channels.

  1. Lot 59 D 95 is a collection of documentation on official visits of foreign dignitaries to the United States and on major international conferences for the years 1949–1955, as maintained by the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State.
  2. The source text bears the handwritten interpolation “Sent to Sec p m 7/26/50.”
  3. Not printed; copies of the notes of the four meetings, taken by Charles W. Yost, Director of the Office of Eastern European Affairs, are in the Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: CF 32.
  4. For documentation on the 1947 and 1949 exploratory talks on the Middle East, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, pp. 485 ff. and ibid., 1949, vol. vi, pp. 594 ff.
  5. Documentation on the status of Berlin and the High Commissioners’ discussion of the German police question is scheduled for publication in volume iv.
  6. No agreed memorandum was found attached to Jessup’s memorandum. However, the source text was found in the Conference Files in the folder containing Jessup’s memorandum and apparently is the agreed memorandum under reference. Three earlier drafts of the agreed memorandum have been identified. The first two are dated July 23 and bear the indicators “Yost–Ladue Draft” and “Capt. Coleridge’s Draft” respectively. The third, which was discussed at the final meeting of the representatives on July 24, bears the indicator “Final Memo.” Except for “Capt. Coleridge’s Draft” which is far more extensive in detail, the other drafts are similar in substance to the source text. Copies of all three are in the Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: CF 32.
  7. Col. Laurence K. Ladue, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; Sir Maberly E. Dening, British Assistant Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; Capt. Richard D. Coleridge, R.N., Secretary, British Joint Service Mission; Maj. Gen. H. Redman, Director of Military Operations, British War Office.
  8. For the text of President Truman’s statement of July 27 in which he had “ordered the Seventh Fleet to prevent any attack on Formosa” and had called on the Chinese Government on Formosa “to cease all air and sea operations against the mainland,” see Department of State Bulletin, July 3, 1950, p. 5.
  9. A reference to the talks of Edward W. Barrett, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, with Christopher Warner, British Assistant Secretary of State, concerning cooperation between the British and U.S. information services during the London Foreign Ministers meeting.
  10. Attached to Jessup’s memorandum was a two-page list containing 13 items for further study. In addition to the eight listed below it included the following topics: a discussion of Indochina with the French, consultations on the Japanese Peace Treaty, Turkish capabilities of dealing with an attack by Bulgaria, withdrawal of Allied forces from Trieste in case of a successful Soviet or satellite attack on Yugoslavia, and consultations on propaganda and psychological warfare. (Conference Files: 59 D 95: CF 32)