CFM Files, Lot M 88, Box 159

Minutes of Tripartite Ministerial Meeting, Paris, French Foreign Office, November 6, 1951, 10:30 a.m.

top secret
NoVT M–l

[Here follows list of persons present: France (10), United Kingdom (8), United States (9). The Foreign Ministers headed each group. The Secretary of State was supported at the top level by David K. E. Bruce, U.S. Ambassador to France; Walter S. Gifford, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom; Philip C. Jessup, U.S. Ambassador at Large and member of the U.S. Delegation to the General Assembly; and George W. Perkins, Assistant Secretary of State for [Page 149] European Affairs. Assistant Secretary Perkins was accompanied by G. Hayden Raynor, Director of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs and formerly United Nations Adviser for the Bureau of European Affairs.1

It was agreed at the outset that the meeting “was not a conference, but an informal meeting for a frank exchange of views.” Morocco was the fourth item on the agenda.2]


M. Schuman indicated his concern about this matter being raised in the Assembly not because the French felt they would be embarrassed but because of the emotional way it would be handled in the Assembly and because of the deteriorating effect this might have on the situation in Morocco. He said he thought we were all in agreement that the Assembly was not competent to act on this matter in the sense of taking a decision or making recommendations. Hence, he felt it was too bad to have a debate which was bound to be fruitless and which could only be harmful in Morocco. He said he thought it was of great importance for the three great Powers to take a common stand, as in Morocco all of our actions are very closely watched and any difference between us would be quickly spotted and exploited.

M. Schuman added that he knew this was the first time we had attempted to keep an important item off the agenda and that we had been extremely liberal in this respect in the past. He questioned, however, whether this had been a wise policy, inquiring as to whether the South African case had really had any beneficial effect on anyone. He felt that discussing questions of this type merely leads to an increase of tension rather than the reverse. He urged that we all take a stronger stand and refuse to place the item on the agenda.

Mr. Acheson said that he would speak first in reply inasmuch as it was our position which was obviously worrying M. Schuman. He said that as he had explained to Ambassador Bonnet in Washington we are anxious to support the French on this question. We agreed as to the importance of Morocco to France and to the West because of the need for stability in the area in view of its military importance. He said that in every substantive way we will support the French on this in the Assembly, but that we could not vote against placing the question on the agenda. We will abstain on this action. We will, however, work with other Delegations in an effort to obtain abstentions or negative votes.

Mr. Acheson added that in the General Assembly when the report of the General Committee comes up for action we will abstain if the [Page 150] report includes the item, but that we would support the report if the General Committee recommends rejecting the item.

Mr. Acheson said that he thought we should also explore possible new procedures which might be applied to this case. He said that the general practice in the past had been to refer all questions to the substantive Committees of the Assembly and to have resolutions passed on all matters. He inquired if this is really necessary. He repeated that we will support the French in the debate. He also said that we will do all we can to persuade the Arabs not to press the matter. He suggested to M. Schuman that perhaps he could say something in his opening speech which would assist with the Arabs. Mr. Acheson also said that even if he were himself personally convinced on the agenda question that he would have a serious problem on this with his own Delegation. He pointed out that several members of the Delegation had attended most of the meetings of the General Assembly and were fully committed to the policy of regarding the Assembly as the Town Meeting of the World and they would be most reluctant to support rejecting the items for the agenda.

M. Schuman, responding to the Secretary’s suggestion about reference to a Committee, said that if we wanted to avoid Committee reference we would have to decide this today as the matter might come up in the General Committee tomorrow. He then said that in considering between necessary evils he thought he would prefer a reference to Committee rather than directly to Plenary.

Mr. Eden intervened at this point to say that although the UK would vote with France on the agenda question, he was finding that a number of Delegations shared some of the US difficulties on the point, not so much on the merits of the question but because of the angle of precedents. He expressed the view that he felt it would be difficult for the French to obtain support on the agenda question and inquired how M. Schuman evaluated this situation.

M. Schuman observed that we were faced with a situation resembling a showdown, and that there was a campaign to divide us. He felt the situation was extremely serious.

Mr. Acheson then said that we might explore the possibility of getting the General Committee to decide to postpone action on putting the question on the agenda.

Mr. Eden said he thought this procedure would have a chance of getting more support than the proposed French course of action. Mr. Acheson said he had two additional suggestions to make: (a) That the French consider carefully in connection with selecting the Chairmen of the Committees what their attitude would be on this Moroccan issue; (b) When we are shortly talking with the Arabs on the Middle [Page 151] East Command that we point out to them how disruptive their action on Morocco is.

M. Schuman picked up the thought with respect to postponement and said that if this were to be tried we would have to reach a decision on this now. He thought if this were done, the postponement would have to be on a provisional basis without a date being specified as otherwise the action would amount to rejection.

Mr. Eden commented that an argument for postponement is that none of the various steps outlined in the Charter which should take place before action is taken in the UN itself had occurred.

It was agreed that as soon as the Arab request was submitted an effort will be made in the General Committee to arrange to postpone “the inscription” of the item on the agenda. Each Delegation was asked to designate one man to make this job his top priority activity. The Secretary designated Ambassador Gross for the US.

[Here follows discussion of other agenda items.]

  1. Perkins and Raynor were not attached to the U.S. Delegation and seem to have been in Paris only for the ministerial talks.
  2. A short and inconclusive discussion of Morocco occurred in a bipartite meeting between Acheson and Eden on November 5 (Doc. NOVB M–2, November 19, CFM Files, Lot M 88, Box 159).