740.5/8–1651: Telegram

The United States Deputy Representative on the North Atlantic Council (Spofford) to the Secretary of State 1

Depto 214. Re Todep 84.2 We have been giving thought to points you raise and other procedural aspects Ottawa mtg. Agree these matters shld be settled by Van Zeeland and CD rather than host govt. In capacity as chairman CD have circulated for discussion at next CD mtg fol proposal for conduct council mtgs:

Begin verbatim text. With reference to D-D(51)86 (final),3 NATO reorganization, and in particular section II thereof, it is the understanding of the Council Deputies that in general, the mtgs of the NAC will be conducted as follows:

The council shall act in plenary session at which each govt shall be represented by whichever minister or ministers, or other duly accredited representative or representatives, it seems desirable.
The council in plenary session may find it convenient, depending on the nature of the agenda, to appoint ministerial committees, e.g., composed of foreign ministers or defence ministers or finance ministers, to consider specific questions. Such committees shall make recommendations to the council in plenary session.
If practicable, the agenda for council sessions shall be so arranged as not necessarily to require the attendance of all ministerial representatives throughout a particular conference.
The mtgs in a particular session will be so scheduled as to allow as much time as possible for informal consultation between ministers. End verbatim text.

[Page 640]

Above provisions answer points raised reftel. Re para 2 above, believe nature agenda for Ottawa mtg does not make possible use of ministerial committees apart from plenary sessions. However, as matter general procedure we believe in future may be desirable have some problems dealt with by categories of ministers. Also think it important that at council mtg categories of ministers get together to discuss matters of particular concern to them and that contact between ministers in this manner will be beneficial. You will note that such ministerial committees are to be established by council in plenary session and wld not necessarily be planned in advance council mtgs altho agenda wld be arranged with eye to using ministerial committees in interest of speeding council’s work.

Important concept is that council should act only in plenary session.4 This is fully in accord with idea that council should act as council of govts.

  1. Repeated to Paris.
  2. Supra.
  3. Not found in the Department of State files.
  4. The Department of Defense took strong exception to this sentence and argued that this would nullify the entire concept of the reorganization of NATO in which the Defense Ministers became members of the Council (memorandum by Parsons, August 22, CFM files, lot M–88, OTT docs la–10). The Department of State therefore instructed Spofford in telegram Todep 132 to London, August 23, not to consider any ministerial committee which might be formed to advise the Council as a subcommittee of inferior status (740.5/8–2151).