Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Bonbright)


Subject: Deputies’ Meeting in Paris

Participants: M. Bonnet, French Ambassador
J. C. H. Bonbright, EUR

The French Ambassador came to see me at 3:45 this afternoon at his request. He said that he had been instructed to convey to the Secretary an expression of French concern about the way the Deputies meetings are progressing in Paris. He said that he realized how busy the Secretary was and did not wish to impose on his time but, if necessary, would have to ask to do so.

M. Bonnet said that the French were bothered about two things, the handling of the sub-item on German demilitarization and the question of a reference to NATO. He argued strongly for agreeing to the latest proposal by Gromyko to put the German demilitarization sub-item in two places on the agenda with a footnote making clear that the only difference with regard to this item was the order under which it was to be discussed.1 The Ambassador apparently was not aware that the Western Deputies had already today indicated in the quadripartite meeting that the Gromyko proposal appears satisfactory. (This was based on my telephone conversation with Mr. Bohlen this morning shortly after the commencement of the quadripartite meeting. Mr. Bohlen indicated that it was too late to go back on this since the French representative had already spoken favorably about the Gromyko proposal.) I explained to M. Bonnet what I understood had happened today.

The Ambassador was equally strong in urging upon us acceptance of the Parodi proposal for dealing with the NATO problem as an annex to the agenda or in a covering letter from the Deputies to their Foreign Ministers. He made it perfectly clear, as we had already gathered from M. Daridan’s visit on Saturday2 and from cables from Paris, that the French cannot contemplate a break in the negotiations in view of the forthcoming French election.3 He spoke in picturesque language of the harmful effects of Communist candidates in every village and hamlet in France exploiting the break as proof of Western war-like intentions.

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I explained to M. Bonnet that we did not want a break either and frankly we did not think that the course we had been urging would lead to such a break. I told him of the depth of feeling here against any reference to NATO. I also spoke of our concern over the gradual erosion of our proposition. I indicated that the German demilitarization item now seemed to be over the dam; he was now urging us to give way on NATO; and I assumed that if we did this the Soviet delegate would then try to put Trieste ahead of Austria and the French would then come back to us and say that we should accept it because our public opinions would not countenance a break on such a flimsy issue. I expressed full appreciation of the French Government’s anxiety in an electoral period and felt that the logical conclusion of his argument was that we should give in to the Soviets on every count. He replied that the question of order might be taken care of by making an acceptable order a condition for accepting some reference to NAT as an unagreed item.

In conclusion, the Ambassador said that Paris felt the talks there should not drag on and that we should try to wind them up. He hoped the Secretary would give sympathetic consideration to his representations. I told him I would be glad to bring his observations to the attention of the Secretary.4

J. C. H. B [onbright]
  1. Gromyko had made this proposal at the 56th session on May 19.
  2. A record of Daridan’s conversation with Perkins on May 19 was transmitted to the U.S. Delegation in telegram 6229 to Paris, May 20 (396.1–PA/5–2051).
  3. The French national elections were scheduled for June 17.
  4. On May 24 Bonnet again asked to see Secretary Acheson, but since the Secretary was engaged he saw Webb instead and repeated the position that he and Daridan had previously stated. Webb told Bonnet that Secretary Acheson and President Truman were following the matter closely but still opposed any concession on NATO. The substance of the conversation was sent to Paris in telegram 6349, May 24 (396.1–PA/5–2451).