The Secretary of State to the United States Deputy Representative on the North Atlantic Council (Spofford), at London1
Todep 84. We have been trying visualize procedure at Sept Council Mtg which is first at which three or more Mins may be present as members and represent their govts. Fol queries are indicative of some of problems which will have to be faced. In our view, they are problems for Van Zeeland and Deputies to settle, especially as precedents for future meetings of Council will be set. They shld not be left for Canada as host at Ottawa to settle.
(1) Will all Mins meet together in plenary sessions or will there be separate mtgs of groups of Mins, such as Fin Mins, or For Mins, or Def Mins?
Comment—We do not wish to encourage separate mtgs of categories of Mins. As indicated Todep 622 there is, for instance, no commitment that SecDef will attend. We recognize, however, that groups of Mins will, if they so desire, get together separately but we shld prefer to regard such mtgs as informal.
(2) If plenary sessions only are held, will each country determine whether to be represented by one or all of its ministers basing its decisions presumably on the nature of the agenda item under consideration?
Comment—In our view, each country shld be free to decide which of its Mins it wishes to have present during Council consideration of each agenda item. For a number of reasons, we do not think it wld be satisfactory to us for agenda items to be assigned to separate mtgs of any category of Mins. Many NAT questions involve political, military, and financial considerations, which are difficult to separate out, and, therefore, it wld be preferable not be committed to exclusive consideration of such questions by only one minister even though that Min wld be following an agreed national position.[Page 639]
(3) If different categories of Mins meet separately, will their mtgs be considered a mtg of the Council or will plenary sessions be required to act upon their recommendations?
Comment—We consider that if Mins meet separately they cld only recommend to but not commit the Council.
(4) Will agenda questions be grouped by subject matter in such a way that certain Mins will not need to remain throughout the conference.
Comment—It might be very convenient if this cld be arranged although for reasons indicated under two it wld not be easy to do so. In general, we believe procedure shld be as flexible as possible in mtg wishes of Mins.
Info on thinking among Deps, and your comment required. This tel has not been cleared with other agencies.