PSA Files: Lot 54D190

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Merchant)


Following the departure of Ambassador Bonnet the Secretary stated that he desired a copy of the aide-mémoire to be transmitted immediately to the Department of Defense, in fact, not later than tomorrow, and he suggested in the interest of speed it be covered by a note to General Burns1 from Mr. Rusk.

Secondly, the Secretary desired that our Embassy in Paris should be informed of this démarche and the views of the Ambassador and Mr. Bohlen be solicited. He emphasized that with their familiarity with the situation that we should attempt to exploit their influence to the maximum in order to achieve what we desired the French to do. The Secretary emphasized that our bargaining position disappears the moment we agree to give theim aid. The Secretary added that he felt that in order to give American aid the best chance of success in this situation it should be provided in circumstances where the three States were given the maximum interest in pursuing a course of resistance. He felt that while they should have urged upon them the importance and the desirability from their own point of view of maintaining a close connection with France, that nevertheless they should be in a position where they could in fact, if they so elected, walk out of the French Union at any time.

  1. Maj. Gen. James H. Burns, (ret.), Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Foreign Military Affairs and Military Assistance.