CFM files, lot M–88, box 158, Secretary’s briefing book

United States Delegation Minutes of the First Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the United States and United Kingdom Held at Washington, September 10, 1951, 3:30 p.m.

U.S.–U.K. Min–1

Mr. Acheson (U.S.)
Mr. Morrison (U.K.)
Also Present
U.S. U.K.
Mr. Harriman Sir Oliver Franks
Mr. Gifford Sir Pierson Dixon
Mr. Jessup Sir F. Hoyer Millar

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European Problems and U.K. Attitude Toward European Integration

1. Mr. Morrison led off the discussion by noting the unusually strong movement on the Continent in favor of European integration. All feared the Soviet menace and believed that close integration would mitigate the danger. Whether adequate thought had been put into these plans was another question. This movement was particularly strong in France, Italy and in the Christian Democratic Union in West Germany. The feeling for European integration was somewhat less strong in Holland, while in Belgium and Luxembourg some strength existed for such plans. The Scandinavian countries, however, were of the same mind as the U.K. Although having a sense of weakness, they did not allow a feeling of inferiority to involve them in other difficulties. The European countries are likely to think that by setting up some kind of federation they have solved the problem, instead of making a point of strengthening individual responsibility. Far from discouraging plans for integration, the U.K. encouraged them. The U.K. believed that further integration of Europe would be a good thing if handled in the right way. Whether the U.K. should join such a movement was a different question. There was not only the fact that the British Isles were separated from the Continent, but there was also a vast difference between the countries of the Continent, and the U.K. Britain, however, would not be prejudiced against joining such movements and would always be ready to consider each particular plan when presented.

2. In the case of the Schuman plan Mr. Morrison said that the British people and the British Government could not accept it. When questions were asked in Parliament about coal and steel, it would be embarrassing to state that it was impossible to answer because such matters were under the jurisdiction of a supra-national organization. At Strasbourg there has been criticism that the U.K. had been dragging its feet in the Council of Europe.1 He said that this quasi-parliamentary body had the weaknesses that the agenda was not drawn up systematically and that no responsible persons presented documents to the Assembly. Committees were established for every problem without regard to the importance of the issues involved. There was no technical staff to help draft these papers nor did he think there should be. The U.K. was continually trying to think of ways to place well constructed documents before the Assembly to provide it with practical problems. The relations between the Assembly and the U.K. were now very much improved. Moreover, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would attend the next meeting in order to exchange views [Page 1230] on fiscal and economic matters. There should be an increase in ad hoc cooperation with the Assembly, and the Assembly must make ad hoc arrangements, so that eventually a series of such arrangements would be possible. Mr. Morrison noted the criticism of the U.K. in such articles as the recent one by Clarence Streit, which stated that what Europe needed was a constitution like the U.S. constitution. While he was fully in favor of constitutions, he believed that languages and traditions made such plans very impractical. As to the relationship between the integration of Europe and NATO, he said that if economic and social problems could be taken up in NATO and could be helpful, so much the better. In any event the U.K. believed, like the Scandinavian countries, that before integration was possible, well thought out solutions to concrete problems must be forthcoming. It was impossible for the U.K. to join movements for European integration at this time.

3. Mr. Acheson believed that the U.S. and U.K. were not far apart in their thinking. He agreed that in the press and in the Congress there were some criticisms of the U.K. reticence about European integration, but it was not the attitude of the Executive Branch to force the U.K. into such schemes. The U.S. was sympathetic to plans for European integration, such as the Schuman plan and the European army, and the Administration had its difficulties with Congress which sometimes wanted to make British adherence to European integration plans a condition of certain matters of foreign policy. The Executive Branch was aware that there were differences between the U.K. and the countries of the Continent and believed that the U.S. and U.K. must work as closely as possible with regard to such plans. The importance of European integration in the U.S. view was based on the fact that Europe is in a precarious economic and military position and would be strengthened by further integration. Western Europe is a small area with the iron curtain on the other side, it would be helpful to have a unified front. The countries of the Continent since the war have arrived at the point of view that nationalism is not the main spring of all action. Perhaps a new loyalty, such as an integrated Europe, might be useful. The U.S. believed that everything in this field could be done under the canopy of NATO. It recognized the risks of the U.K. joining a federation with France, Italy and Germany, but under NATO it believed that these risks were not too great.

4. Mr. Acheson assured Mr. Morrison that the U.S. Government was not in favor of formulating theoretical constitutions, but in really working out practical problems. In this respect the U.S. believed that the Schuman Plan was very helpful, as would be a European army. The Continental countries were beginning to see this, and in the not too distant future some political institutions might be established which would be beneficial in solving European problems.

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5. Mr. Morrison said that he agreed with this approach and he believed that something short of formal adherence to such plans by the U.K. might be worked out.

6. Mr. Acheson noted that the U.K. was close to the Continent and would want to have ways of working out the various problems it had with the Continental countries. If the iron curtain were broken, however, it might be easier for countries which were currently USSR satellites to join a European organization if the U.K. were not participating as a member.

7. Mr. Harriman agreed that the OEEC was most, successful, but he was disturbed that this organization had been neglected. He expressed the hope that its work could be stimulated. It might work in with the NATO and the European Defense Force in some way.

8. Mr. Acheson noted that there had been some thought of merging the ECE and OEEC, but this the U.S. believed was a mistake particularly in view of the position that Germany should take in Western affairs. The OEEC was still useful in its present form.

Alignment of U.S.–U.K. Policies in Middle East

(a) Egypt 2

9. Mr. Morrison began this discussion by noting the long history of Egypt’s relation with the U.K. and pointed out that the U.K. did not seek to hinder the independence of the Egyptians in any colonial way. The politics of Egypt were very bad and the social structure with its broad masses layered by a few on top was very backward. The U.K. did have the treaty of 1936 however, and there were no provisions to bring it to an end. Mr. Bevin had taken on the Egyptian problem and some progress had been made for a settlement. The situation had deteriorated again, however. The Egyptians now wanted the U.K. to move out in 12 months and stated that if war came, U.K. troops could come back to Egypt. It was obvious even to the Egyptians that they could not defend themselves, yet Egypt was important militarily since it affected the Southern perimeter defenses against the Soviet Union. The U.K. could not leave Egypt and there the matter rested. The U.K. had put forth propositions to the Egyptians that went further than the U.K. wanted to go, but these propositions were rejected and the problem of Sudan was taken up. The Egyptians had given the Sudanese a rough time during their control over the Sudan and the U.K. administration was a good one which the Sudanese liked. The U.K. was looking to a time when the Sudan could be given self-government. The Sudanese should decide this question and similar arrangements should be made to those in Libya, which had gone much further toward in [Page 1232] dependence. He did not know whether the Sudanese would want to control foreign affairs and their defense, but he believed the U.K. might still maintain control of those matters. In all of these matters the U.K. would have scrupulous respect for the self-determination of the Sudanese. The Egyptians, however, wanted more control of the foreign affairs, defense and fiscal matters of Sudan. In addition they wished to control the Nile, which was important both to the U.K. and the Sudan. The U.K. would like to see France, the U.S. and the U.K. cooperate in solving this problem.

10. Mr. Morrison said that perhaps a new approach in the form of an inter-allied defense command should be established in which Egypt could make its own contribution as a full partner. Under such an arrangement there could be no charge of a U.K. occupation. He thought that such a command would be in the interest of the free states, and in accord with the Egyptians’ pride and prestige. He believed, as did the U.K. Chiefs of Staff, that this matter could be worked out in spite of the fact that it would tie up forces in Egypt which might be otherwise used for strictly U.K. purposes. It was important that agreement between the U.S. and the U.K. be obtained on this problem, since the Egyptians were currently attempting to play off the two countries against each other.

11. Mr. Acheson said that the U.S. Chiefs of Staff agreed with those of the U.K. that the British forces must stay in Egypt. The problem was to prescribe a medicine which would effect the desired cure; mere force would apparently not work. A plan must be devised in which the Egyptians would have a legitimate position to which they could adhere. The procedure of an inter-allied arrangement was such a method, but since the same troops would be in Egypt this procedure would take some dressing up to make it palatable to the Egyptians. The U.S. had endeavored to leave no doubt with the Egyptians regarding the U.S. support for maintenance by the U.K. of its strategic facilities in Egypt.

12 As to the Sudan the U.S. recognized that it is not possible for a union with Egypt under the crown. He made the following suggestions:

A UN commission might be established which would have a general advisory position with regard to the Sudan. It would have no powers to interfere but only to report to the UN.
The U.K. might renew the offer of the proposals which were rejected before.
Thought should be given to the possibility of an international guarantee of an Egypto-Sudanese Nile waterway agreement. A Nile waterway authority might be established under the International Bank.
There might be some advantage in fixing an early date for the attainment of self-government by the Sudan.
Consideration might be given to the appointment of a neutral Governor General of the Sudan.

Mr. Acheson said that some means should be devised to place Egypt in an embarrassing situation with regard to international opinion, if it refused the proposals for solution of the problem. It was important both to have some place for the Egyptians to go and some means to prod them toward it. He stressed that this problem was so important that the U.S. was very desirous of working it out with the U.K.

13. Mr. Morrison agreed with the last point made by Mr. Acheson and pointed out that the question of the Suez Canal alarmed the Sudanese as much as it did the U.K. He noted, however, that he was not able to make favorable moves toward the Egyptians because of the thin majority his government held in Parliament. It was necessary to show strength at times and the U.K. must not be driven into the position of having to agree with whatever moves the Egyptians wanted. Not only was the position difficult because of Parliament, but Mr. Morrison said he was not the kind of man who wanted to diminish the prestige of the U.K. in the world.

14. With respect to the suggestions Mr. Acheson made regarding the Sudan, Mr. Morrison made the following comments:

It was possible that a UN commission might be utilized if it were to merely observe elections in the Sudan, but such a commission would not be agreeable if it were to give a running commentary on events in that country since this might weaken the U.K. position there.
Reiteration of U.K. readiness to consider a statement on the principles already offered might be a possibility.
The proposal of a Nile waterway authority was a good possibility.
The fixing of a date for attainment of self-government by the Sudan was also a good possibility.
The suggestion of a neutral Governor General of the Sudan was probably not feasible, since the staff of the U.K. would probably not work under a foreign Governor General. There was also the problem of who would be appointed: the Belgians did not have a good reputation in the Sudan and the Scandinavians did not have the experience needed. This suggestion appeared too much as though the U.K. was trying to “scuttle” away from the area.

He warned against making proposals which would be impossible to live up to, since this would create a situation which would be worse than ever. The situation must not come about in which the U.K. was forced into a position of accepting the terms of the Egyptians. If the Egyptians became too unreasonable the U.K. would have to take a forceful position. Mr. Morrison said he did not know whether the Egyptians would insist that the Sudan problem be solved before the military question.

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15. Mr. Acheson said that he was not forgetting the possible necessity of getting tough with the Egyptians, but the U.S. did not believe that taking forceful action merely for its own sake would solve the problem. In fact, the Egyptians could make it quite difficult for the U.K. The question was whether forceful action would get the desired results. Mr. Morrison replied that the U.K. Chiefs of Staff reported that the Egyptians would not take more than administrative measures against the U.K. and that, although riots might be engendered and might get out of hand, the position would not be untenable or worse than the one existing in Persia.

16. Mr. Morrison said that a timetable has been drawn up with regard to an approach to Turkey and Egypt on an inter-allied command which he believed was acceptable.3 The sooner action was taken on this the better, since the Egyptian problem depended on the adherence of Turkey and the establishment of the command structure.

[Here follow paragraphs 17–38b dealing with Iran.]

Chancellor Konrad Adenauer

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Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, Secretary of State Acheson, and Foreign Secretary Morrison meet at the Department of State September 10, 1951.

[Page [1236]]

Henry A. Byroade

John J. McCloy

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(c) Kashmir 4

39. Mr. Acheson said that events were moving very rapidly toward a collision in this area. The question is whether to put forward any plan at this time. It appeared that the Pakistani would be willing to do anything to which India would agree to solve the problem. It was first necessary that the U.S. and U.K. should act together. In the UN it would be possible to muster an impressive vote against India. Outside of the UN attempts should be made to have the Asians take the initiative in intervening, especially such countries as Burma, Indonesia and Ceylon. Another possibility would be to postpone the disposition of Kashmir for an extended period such as ten years and make provision for UN administration of the area. The attempt should be made to remove the dispute from the political sphere and to concentrate on its technical aspects. If progress were made on water development, the whole economic basis for the dispute would disappear.

40. Mr. Morrison said that the more we could delay, the better the chances would be for a peaceful settlement. Perhaps this was wrong but at least there was no use to use force at this time. Both countries were in the British Commonwealth and the U.K. was trying to be impartial, but it made clear in the UN that the Indians were wrong. It was impossible for the U.K. or UN to intervene by force. Perhaps at the right time the British Commonwealth could collectively intervene. The Asian intervention which Mr. Acheson mentioned might be a strong influence. India was sensitive to any U.K. or U.S. interference with regard to Pakistan. Whether the UN would be a suasive force was not sure. Even though this was no time for bullying Nehru, a stalemate should be avoided. If the U.S. agreed to this general line details could be worked out by the respective UN delegations.

41. Mr. Acheson said that while Mr. Scott was here he would like to have the appropriate officials in the Department meet with him on this matter. Regarding taking this question up in the Security Council and especially in the General Assembly, it should be raised “more in sorrow than in anger”. Meanwhile, it would be most helpful to try to make progress on the Punjab development scheme which would help to remove the dispute from the political field.

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42. Mr. Morrison made the general point with respect to Middle East affairs that both the U.S. and U.K. were open to criticism regarding failure to maintain mutual consultations. He asked that before the U.S. minds become too firm on a given problem that they consult with the U.K. With regard to the situation in Iran it was certainly capable of improvement with respect to consultation, and he was sending word to change the instructions to Iran to conform to the foregoing discussion.

Press Relations

43. It was agreed that the usual practice in bipartite talks would be observed, in that the press would merely be informed of the fact of the meeting and the persons present.

  1. For documentation on U.S. interest in the European Coal and Steel Community (Schuman Plan) and the Council of Europe, see volume iv .
  2. For further documentation on U.S. interest in Egypt’s relations with the United Kingdom, see volume v .
  3. For documentation on the problem of a Middle East Command within NATO see pp. 460 ff.
  4. For further documentation on U.S. interest in the Kashmir question, see Part 2, pp. 1699 ff.