S/AE Files, Lot 68 D 358

Memorandum by the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Matthews) to the Secretary of State 1

top secret

Subject: Summary of discussion between Sir Oliver Franks, Air Marshal Sir William Elliot, General Bradley, Messrs. Nitze and Matthews2

On the question of whether we proposed to use U.K. bases without their consent, we stated, and General Bradley concurred, that prior consultation and agreement with them would obviously be required.

Sir Oliver agreed with our suggestion that the whole issue of developing situations be considered on the basis of whether or not they were likely to lead to general war and not on the issue of whether the atomic bomb was to be employed.

On the more general question of consultation, it became clear that a real issue existed.

Franks was perfectly willing to concede that there were certain areas where we could make no commitment as to what we would do or make a commitment to consult prior to taking action; on the other hand, he clearly was under instructions to find as broad an area as possible, and as easy language for us to take as possible, which would define a field in which we were obligated to talk to them.

Our position was that we wanted to talk to them as frankly and in as broad an area as possible, but that we could not enter into any agreement or commitment or procedure that would imply a commitment, even a commitment to continue to talk or to follow any given procedure. Our suggestion was that we begin to exchange views without commitment and rely on the developing practice to bring our respective viewpoints as close together as possible.

Franks raised the question of what Mr. Morrison could say to the Prime Minister on his return, and possibly to the Commons. Mr. [Page 891] Matthews showed him, but did not leave with him, the draft statement,3 the original of which the Secretary has. Franks indicated that this might be a useful approach.

Franks left us with the impression that he understood and appreciated our point of view, that it did not meet what he was under instruction to get, and that he would have to talk to Mr. Morrison before he could tell us whether he was happy with the situation or not.

  1. Drafted by Matthews and Paul H. Nitze, Director of the Policy Planning Staff.
  2. The following handwritten marginal notation appears at this point on the source text: “A detailed report is attached.” Reference is presumably to the memorandum of conversation by Nitze, supra.
  3. Post, p. 894.