740.5/1–3051: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Secretary of State


4190. Deptel 3539 January 27 [26]1 and Embtel 4171 January 29.2 At informal meeting in FonOff attended by Dixon, Makins, Hoyer-Millar, [Page 39] Shuckburgh, Baldwin, Achilles and Willius [ Willis ] British gave us official view opposing transfer NATO organizations to Paris. Dixon presented British position which he said had been agreed upon at Whitehall meeting January 21 attended by Dixon and Makins from FonOff, Hoyer-Millar, NAT deputy, Brook, secretary Cabinet, Sir Harold Parker from Ministry of Defense and Plowden for Treasury among others. Dixon pointed out collective view presented was that of high officials and should not be regarded as final position of HMO. However, if question of moving NAT agencies to Paris were formally raised position opposing could not be changed without submitting to ministers, which would in turn involve submission to Cabinet since position communicated to Perkins by Rowan3 last week had already been approved by Cabinet.

Dixon outlined two groups of objections to moving NAT organizations to Paris as follows: group one, those with political implications; and group two those which were operational in character.

Group one—objections with political implications:

Broad general effect would be to strengthen European concept at expense of Atlantic concept.
There would be danger that NATO would be absorbed into OEEC, and economic rather than defense considerations would predominate, whereas it was agreed that defense should be paramount.
Close cooperation between the US and the UK would be more difficult in Paris than in London. Close cooperation between these two countries is regarded as the heart and soul of NATO.
Commonwealth sympathy which is important can be better attained if organizations are in London and would doubtless be weakened by transfer to Paris. Makins interjected that statement was true in itself and that further link-up of NAT and OEEC would weaken appeal to Commonwealth as large portions of Commonwealth look askance at European organizations such as OEEC.
Security. It was generally agreed that the NATO security control as administered by UK is good. In Paris it would be in the hands of international staff and danger of Communist penetration would be greater. In fact penetration of Communists into organization would be almost inevitable. They recognized NATO material already subject to risk of Communist access in France but felt that risks would be far greater if organizations were located in France where, for example, all messengers would be French.

Group two—objections of an operational character:

Difficulties would not be solved merely by having NATO and OEEC side by side. It was admitted that there might be some gain from national point of view in merging delegations but that if there [Page 40] were no fusion of functions of two organizations the problems of differentiation of functions, overlapping and liaison would still remain. Certain advantages of having physical location of two organizations in separate cities were brought out in connection with the participation of those countries which do not belong to NATO and do not wish to be associated with its work such as Sweden and Switzerland.

Dixon stated objections had been listed in order of relative importance. Following presentation of British views above outlined, there was an extremely informal exploration of possibilities other than the moving of NATO operations to Paris. British indicated they had looked at possibility of moving OEEC to London and decided it was politically not practical and would undoubtedly evoke objections from OEEC members not members of NAT. In general British view appeared to be that problem of relationship between OEEC and NATO was one which was not ripe for solution, and that it would be preferable not to try to solve it for a few months but to test out existing working arrangements. Makins expressed personal view that question had been raised prematurely partly because of (a) “fuss over raw materials” and (b) feeling on the part of OEEC that it was going to lose some of its functions.

In reply to question whether there was any indication from Eisenhower as to whether he desired to have deputies in close proximity to SHAPE it was stated Embassy had no information on subject.4 British reiterated doubt Eisenhower would wish to be surrounded by NATO agencies since this would tend to involve him in questions from which he would otherwise be screened by standing group. British also inquired whether in the event that NAT organizations were moved from London to Paris US would also be in favor of having SG move to Paris. Embassy officers again indicated they had no information on this point.

Our estimate given in paragraph 6 Embtel 4171 that move would not have adverse effect on British public opinion is unchanged by views expressed at January 30 meeting.

  1. Supra.
  2. Not printed; it provided an Embassy estimate of the probable British attitude regarding the proposed transfer (740.5/1–2951).
  3. The communication referred to here has not been identified in the Department of State files.
  4. General Eisenhower’s views on the proposed move of the Council Deputies to Paris were briefly expressed by the Director of the Executive Secretariat, William J. McWilliams, in a memorandum to S/S, drafted by MacArthur and dated February 6. Eisenhower, the memorandum said, had indicated that he did not wish to take a position regarding the matter but thought the decision should be made on the basis of whether organizationally such a move would make sense. (740.5/2–651)