Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 93

Memorandum of Conversation, by Ridgway B. Knight of the Office of European Regional Affairs1
top secret

Subject: Middle East Command and Greece and Turkey

Participants: The Secretary
Mr. Morrison, UK Foreign Minister
Mr. Schuman, French Foreign Minister
General Bradley
Air [Chief] Marshal Sir John [William] Elliot, British Member, Standing Group
General Piatte, Deputy to General Ely, French Member, Standing Group.

Mr. Schuman outlined the French position as follows: The French Delegation had received instructions to vote for the admission of Greece and Turkey at the Ottawa meeting of the NAC. However, with reference to the Middle East Command it was impossible for him to go beyond acceptance in principle of this command. He outlined the two French reservations which had already been communicated to the UK and to the US during the Tripartite Discussions in Washington on [Page 681] 12–14 September. These would have to be satisfied before the French Government could give its final approval.

French assistant to the Middle East Commander: Mr. Schuman submitted a paragraph outlining the French position. (Admiral Wright has the only copy given to us, together with the translation done on the spot)2. Substantially, the French requested that there be a French major general who will serve as assistant to SACME, and receive appropriate responsibilities and authority to discharge these responsibilities within the geographical limit of the Middle East Command.
Command set-up in the Western Mediterranean: Mr. Schuman also submitted a paragraph outlining the French position. (Admiral Wright has the only copy given to us, together with the translation done on the spot.2) The heart of this French reservation is to the effect that the command must be geographic in nature rather than functional and that the French admiral in command thereof should have a status “analogous” to that of the naval commanders in adjacent areas. The French insist that their admiral who already has the functional responsibility for protecting the LOC between southern France and North Africa, receive a geographic command in addition thereto. However, this geographical command would not include those functional responsibilities which would have to be attributed directly to Admiral Carney.

The Secretary and Mr. Morrison pointed out that this French reservation could constitute a major problem depending on exactly what the French had in mind: Was it proposed that the French admiral come directly under General Eisenhower (through interpretation of the word “analogous” applying to the relationship between the French admiral and Admiral Carney) or would the French be willing to have the Admiral serve under orders of Admiral Carney (through interpretation of “analogous” to other naval commanders subordinate to Admiral Carney)? It was also pointed out that whatever arrangement was established should be entirely satisfactory to General Eisenhower as the first mission of all allied naval forces in the Mediterranean was the support of SACEUR.

Mr. Schuman answered that the French Government was not excluding the possibility that their admiral would be subordinate to Admiral Carney, but that this was a point which could not be settled by itself, but would have to be part and parcel of an all-over settlement of the French Command for the geographical naval command in the Mediterranean which should provide minimum satisfaction to French aspirations. He referred to French public and parliamentary opinion which would be very insistent and vocal on this subject.

Mr. Acheson summed up to the effect that a decision could obviously not be reached today as he was not qualified in this highly technical [Page 682] military field and that General Bradley would have to consult with the other US Chiefs of Staff as well as confer with General Eisenhower. Likewise, Mr. Morrison indicated that he would be obliged to consult his Government and the UK chiefs of staff. The Secretary then proposed that first things be considered first and that the three powers vote in favor of admission of Greece and Turkey at the Council Meeting in the afternoon and agree to postpone the settlement of the questions pertaining to the M.E. Command, which however important they were, had a lower priority. The Secretary proposed that subsequent to favorable action by the Council, General Bradley, whom the US Government intended to send to Turkey to discuss the Middle East Command and obtain Turkish views as to Turkish participation therein, together with a British military representative (Mr. Morrison subsequently designated Field Marshal Slim) stop over in Paris on their way to Turkey. In Paris General Bradley and Field Marshal Slim would discuss the Western Mediterranean Naval Command problem with General Eisenhower and the French staff. It was hoped that these conversations would be successful and that a French military representative of high rank would then join his British and American colleagues and proceed with them to Ankara where all three would talk with their Turkish opposite numbers. (Jointly or severally, the point was not made clear but the inference was that the three representatives would speak jointly with the Turkish staff.)

Messrs. Morrison and Schuman accepted this procedure and General Bradley stated that he hoped these conversations in Paris could take place within a week to ten days.

Mr. Morrison raised the question as to whether mention should be made in the British communication to the Turkish Government that the principle of an integrated Middle East Command had been accepted by the US and by the French.

Mr. Schuman said that unfortunately this was not yet a fact. While he had expressed agreement in principle to the Middle East Command, he had specifically stated that final and definite approval could only be forthcoming after minimum satisfaction of France’s reservation relating to the Western Mediterranean. It was thereupon agreed that all three governments could only refer to their own views and to actions they had taken or proposed to take themselves and would not refer to the other two powers.

In the course of the conversation, Mr. Schuman stressed to Mr. Morrison that it had to be thoroughly understood that in voting that afternoon for the resolution pertaining to the admission of Greece and Turkey in NATO, France and [in?] committing itself only to the precise language of the resolution and that in so doing France was not committing itself to anything beyond that language (i.e., he wished to [Page 683] make abundantly clear to Mr. Morrison that in voting for the admission of Greece and Turkey, he was accepting no commitment—direct or implied—in regard to the Middle East Command).

  1. Knight was Coordinator of International Conferences for the period September through November 1951.
  2. Not attached to the source text.
  3. Not attached to the source text.