Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: CF 321

Memorandum by the Ambassador at Large (Jessup) to the Secretary of State 2
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Subject: US–UK Talks—July 20–24, 19503

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.4

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.5

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.6 The [Page 189] 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

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.…

Philip C. Jessup
Agreed United States–United Kingdom Memorandum of Discussions on the Present World Situation7
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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, [Page 190] Major General Redman and Captain R. D. Coleridge, R.N. 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.…

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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 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 [Page 191] 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.…

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Actions To Be Recommended9

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 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 [Page 192] 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 certain official visits of European heads of government and foreign ministers to the United States and on major international conferences, including North Atlantic Council sessions, attended by the Secretary of State for the period 1949–1955, as maintained by the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State.
  2. The source text bears the handwritten interpolation “Sent to Sec pm 7/26/50.”
  3. The US–UK political-military talks of July 20–24 at Washington were part of a broad Anglo-American consultation on world problems relating to the outbreak of the Korean conflict, documented in vol. iii, pp. 1654 ff. The source text is printed in full, ibid., p. 1657; the portions herein omitted deal with the Far East and Europe.
  4. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Sir Oliver Franks, British Ambassador to the United States; General Arthur William (Baron) Tedder, Marshal of the Royal Air Force and British Permanent Representative to the NATO Standing Group.
  5. 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 Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: CF 32.
  6. For documentation on the 1947 and 1949 exploratory talks at Washington on the Middle East, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, pp. 485 ff., and ibid., 1949, vol. vi, pp. 50 ff.
  7. No agreed memorandum was found attached to Jessup’s memorandum. However, the source text was found in the Conference Files in the folder containing the notes of the four meetings between the U.S. and U.K. delegates.
  8. This document is printed in full in vol. iii, p. 1661. The omitted portions concern the Far East, Europe, and a section entitled “General Topics.”
  9. 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 ease of a successful Soviet or satellite attack on Yugoslavia, and consultations on propaganda and psychological warfare. (Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: CF 32)