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 France Held at Washington, September 11, 1951, 3:30 p.m.

U.S.–Fr. Min–1

Mr. Acheson (U.S.)
M. Schuman (Fr)
Also Present
U.S. France
Mr. Harriman M. Bonnet
Mr. Jessup M. Alphand
Mr. Perkins M. de Margerie
Mr. Bruce

[Here follows a table of contents.]


1. M. Schuman said that his Government was preparing a note on Indochina dealing with the present troop strength and casualties and containing a projection of plans and problems for 1952. Without going into details it was clear that it would be impossible for France to carry out the proposed effort in Indochina and to fulfill its obligations with respect to the defense of Europe. France planned to spend a billion francs a day in Indochina alone and faced many problems in obtaining a maximum effort there as it was engaged to do. As to the financial problem the Finance Ministers would be discussing it further. In brief, after July 1, 1952, the French would be unable to continue their effort at the present rate and would face a 150 billion franc deficit for the year. This deficit incidentally was included in the French estimate on the dollar gap. It was not suggested that the U.S. finance French policy directly but it was hoped that the U.S. could assist by arms and other troop supplies, especially in establishing the national armies of the Associated States. In this connection General de Lattre hoped to expand the present strength of 25 battalions to 50 battalions.

[Page 1250]

2. Mr. Acheson said that M. Mayer, French Finance Minister, had discussed this matter with General Marshall and had made a deep impression upon him. The need for a solution was generally recognized. There was general agreement on the principle as discussed during the talks with M. Pleven,2 that France should continue to be primarily responsible for Indochina, that U.S. troops should not be used, and that first priority in military aid should go to Indochina. This difficult problem needed careful study, since funds directly available for Indochina under the present aid program were not sufficient. Both General Marshall and Mr. Foster of ECA were examining all possible ways to find other routes to reach the common goal. All that could be said now was that the importance of this problem was fully understood, that the question would be given urgent attention, and that the U.S. had the will—even if it were not sure as to the means—to assist in solving this problem. Perhaps General de Lattre would be able to make some helpful suggestions.

3. M. Schuman said that Mr. Acheson’s reply was cause for hope in the future. He recalled the first promise in May 1950 for aid to Indochina which has been effective and well used.3 General de Lattre would develop more information on the long-term problem and relate it to the Singapore Conference. When he presented General de Lattre to Mr. Acheson personally on September 14 it might be possible to explore this problem further.


4. Mr. Acheson complimented the work of the Tripartite group discussing the Draft Instructions to the Allied High Commissioner and the Draft Agreement on General Relations with the Federal Republic (WFM T–5a, September 10, 19514), for although there remained important differences they had reached a broad area of agreement. He suggested that only those points of difference between the U.S. and France be discussed at this time since the document as a whole would be considered by the Tripartite meeting.

5. M. Schuman joined in complimenting the group on its work and noted that there was no question of principle separating the two Governments. He was preoccupied with the need to give a large measure of satisfaction to the Federal Republic in order to help it resist opposition pressure. His only hesitation arose from the means in which the general objective could be obtained and agreed to consider various points at issue.

(a) With respect to security controls (pp. 5–6, WFM T–5a) M. Schuman accepted the U.S. position providing agreement were [Page 1251] reached on a European Defense Force and this plan became effective. Mr. Acheson replied that this was the premise on which the paper was based. If this community of effort were not realized the policy would have to be reexamined.

(b) On preservation of democracy (p. 9, WFM T–5a) and Article 7 of the Draft Agreement (p. 26, WFM T–5a) Mr. Acheson said that any agreement with the German Federal Republic was based on the premise that Germany had established a democratic regime and would maintain it. If this premise were violated all three powers would consult as to what they should do. He understood that the French Government desired to survey the activities of the Federal Republic in a more detailed fashion and to have the right to appeal to a tribunal if a specific infraction of democracy were discovered. He thought that this would involve the governments in too great a detail. M. Schuman proposed that a unilateral declaration be made—possibly in the Preamble or by some other method—that if German democracy were overthrown the three powers would reconsider their own position. If this were done he would agree to the U.S. point of view. He wished to avoid the impression that all measures of the German Parliament would be surveyed or that there would be constant intervention. He would like to think the problem over until the next day but hoped to be able to reach an agreement on this basis. In a declaration, Mr. Acheson noted, the three Governments would wish to be tactful and to indicate the benefits that Germany and the free world would receive from such statement.

(c) As to logistical and financial support of Allied forces (p. 11, WFM T–5a) Mr. Acheson noted that each of the three Governments had different views. The problem arose from the fact that Germany was contributing approximately 6-½ billion DM during the coming year, while estimates indicated that 10 or perhaps 12 billion DM might be required. This amount was either close to or slightly above the level that Germany appeared able to bear. If in addition Germany contributed to its own armed defense then the load would be too great. It would be impossible to apply to Germany the formula existing in Austria, where the U.S. pays its own way while the U.K. and France do not. Congress would not agree to this policy. He did not see a solution to the problem but believed that it must be solved some way. M. Schuman agreed that a solution could not be found today or tomorrow, and in any case it was a matter with which the Finance Ministers were primarily concerned. The difficulty lay in the fact that the Germans thought they were already paying too much, and when their own army was involved they would want to credit the sums assigned to them against their present payments. A sum must be determined for German contribution both to European defense and to support of Allied troops. He suggested that a working group of experts be established to determine an agreed sum both for German contribution to the European defense force and to the support of Allied troops. Mr. Acheson indicated his interest in this proposal.

(d) As to the proposed Article 5 of the Agreement on General Relations with the Federal Republic (p. 25, WFM T–5a) M. Schuman raised the question of a guarantee to defend Berlin. He agreed in principle to guarantee the Federal Republic and had further agreed in New York, September 1950, that an attack upon Allied troops (including those in Berlin) would be considered an attack upon the North [Page 1252] Atlantic community. He doubted the wisdom of guaranteeing Berlin in an agreement with German Federal Republic. The Allies were in Berlin of their own right, while the Federal Republic did not have such a right. He thought it illogical and possibly dangerous to undertake a reciprocal agreement with the Federal Republic on this question. The Soviet Union which did not recognize the Federal Republic might react adversely. There was no difference among the three Governments as to Berlin, but he was reluctant to undertake such an engagement with the Federal Republic.

6. Mr. Acheson said he appreciated M. Schuman’s point of view. He himself had doubts concerning the proposal, since the agreement might have to be placed before the Senate. There was no reciprocal element in this guarantee and it might impinge on certain provisions, especially Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. He had been thinking in the following direction: Perhaps the three Governments might make a special agreement or declaration reaffirming the New York declaration and stating that the change in status of Allied troops in Germany would have no effect on previous commitments. He was not in a position to lay this plan before the other two Governments in precise detail as yet M. Schuman indicated his approval of the proposal.


7. Mr. Acheson said that he had received a proposal from the U.K. with respect to revision of the Italian Peace Treaty which he understood had also been handed to the French Government. The U.K. envisaged five steps:

Agreement with Italy on terms of a note to request revision of the Italian Treaty.
Tripartite Declaration indicating that the spirit of the North Atlantic Treaty should govern their relations with Italy.
Note from Italian Government to include the following points: (1) in order to assure Italian self defense the military clauses of the treaty should be revised; (2) the general military clauses were no longer applicable; (3) the moral stigma of the Preamble should be removed; (4) the spirit of the U.N. Charter should govern it instead; and (5) Article 46 concerning military limitations should be revised since the Soviet Union had blocked U.N. action as provided by the treaty.
After receipt of this note an interim reply followed by a period of possibly six to eight weeks, which would give time for Italy and Yugoslavia to settle their differences over Trieste and also for pressure to be exerted on other nations such as India, Ethiopia and Greece.
Three powers reply that as far as bilateral relations with Italy were concerned they would no longer enforce the articles of the treaty mentioned above.

8. The U.K. proposal had the merit of avoiding notes to the Soviet Union and reference to NATO. In its general approach it accorded [Page 1253] with U.S. view that there should be no international treaty to revise the Italian treaty.

9. M. Schuman indicated that as yet he had had no opportunity to study the note and his views were therefore preliminary. If this procedure involved notes to all the signatories, he questioned whether the Italian Government would wish to humiliate itself in that manner. Moreover, he had hoped to arrive at a declaration on this question, if not at Ottawa, at the NAC meeting in Rome. The British proposal seemed to be unnecessarily complicated and to dissipate the possible good effect upon Italian morale. Finally, if Trieste were tied into the revision, it was possible that the Italian Government might react against this and not act at all. At present, Italy and Yugoslavia were like a petrified dog and cat, each refusing to make a move.

10. Mr. Acheson replied that since a tripartite declaration would be issued as the second step, one of M. Schuman’s objections would be overcome. Perhaps the agreement on the Italian note and the declaration could be executed quickly. He himself had queried the U.K. representatives as to whether or not they were making agreement on Trieste a condition to the treaty revision and was informed that this would not be the case, although it was hoped that the interval before the revision would assist in resolving the problem. M. Schuman remarked that the three governments were dealing with an extremely sensitive people and that they should be very tactful. He promised to reflect on the matter further before the tripartite meeting.


11. Noting that the Resident-General in Morocco was directly under the Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Schuman emphasized his direct interest and responsibility for Morocco. He had been concerned in early 1951 when he received a note from the U.S. to the effect that it would be difficult, or even impossible, to support France if the Moroccan question were raised before the U.N. He thought that it would be best to have a frank, friendly discussion before the Moroccan question became an issue of open debate. He would not, however, discuss the legal status of U.S. citizens in Morocco, since that question was presently before The Hague Tribunal and France would of course loyally adhere to any decision which was reached.

12. He was pleased to recognize and emphasize the important role that Marshall Plan aid had played in Morocco and to note that the relations between the Moroccans, the French and the Americans with respect to the military bases were very good.

13. He did not need to discuss in detail the content of the two memoranda of September 6 in which the French Government had set forth [Page 1254] its attitude with respect to communism and nationalism in Morocco and the political evolution of Morocco (WFM F–4/1, September 8, 19517). Instead he wished to describe present French policy which was opposite to the old colonial concept of the pre-1914 period. France would make a modern democratic state of Morocco. This was the purpose of the reforms of General Juin and of the new Resident-General, General Guillaume. The latter had received specific instructions to undertake additional reforms. France, however, could not impose these reforms but had to persuade the Sultan to accept them. Unfortunately the Sultan did not favor democracy, and since he was an absolute sovereign, he did not renounce his prerogatives easily. Moreover, the Berbers were also feudal and medieval in their point of view and were opposed to democracy. In addition, the European and Jewish colonies needed to be brought into a cohesive whole of Moroccan life. The Istiqlal, the anti-French opposition, was not interested in democracy and sought a representative assembly only in the hope of eliminating the French from Morocco. In undertaking necessary reorganization of the social structure, the reforms were directed to municipal improvement. They had evoked resistance but he hoped soon to get results.

14. In this policy France should not be isolated from the U.S. Neither the Sultan nor the Istiqlal should find a difference between the two countries. There was of course freedom for journalists to come to Morocco and freedom for Moroccans to travel abroad. Events of relative unimportance, such as a broadcast by Bourghiba from London, could be greatly exaggerated in Morocco. As to the communists in Morocco, they should not be confused with the nationalists. The two elements were entirely separate, but they could form a temporary alliance for their own purposes. Thus, the nationalists might try to use communist labor unions to create disorder.

15. As to the possibility that the Moroccan question might be placed before the U.N. by a member of the Arab League, M. Schuman asked the U.S. to discourage such action. Such a public discussion would not aid the situation in Morocco. Passions would be inflamed and it would be more difficult to make progress with the proposed reforms. At present there was no great difficulty in Morocco. General Guillaume was close to the Sultan and it was hoped that he would be able to influence him. If a debate did develop in the U.N., France and the U.S. should discuss their common attitude. At this point he had no specific ideas concerning exactly what should be done. France recognized its responsibility to lead Morocco forward toward independence in the French Union. This would be done in the same spirit as it had been done in Indochina. He appreciated the opportunity to explore this [Page 1255] problem which was of common strategic interest and in which the two countries had a common stake in an ordered, democratic regime.

16. Mr. Acheson said that the interests of France and the U.S. in Morocco were identical and that the two countries should work in close relationship. He appreciated the French assistance in making military facilities available. He would not want to hurt the position of France. He agreed that Morocco was not ready for independence and that it was the role of France to guide these people toward independence. In this effort he wished to be helpful. He also agreed that no useful purpose would be served by bringing the question before the U.N. and he would use such limited influence as he had to discourage such a step. He would study what had been said and would try to work out a common attitude if the question of Morocco came before the U.N. He observed that nationalist agitation merited careful consideration, as indeed the French were giving it, since such agitation was often used to direct attention away from local problems. He welcomed the offer of M. Schuman for further discussion of this question and thought perhaps this should be worked out.

Economic Situation

17. M. Schuman said that as Foreign Minister he was naturally concerned with the general economic situation as it affected the North Atlantic Treaty effort. It was necessary to have an over-all view of the financial problem. Such a comprehensive survey had not yet been done, even though it was extremely important to make progress on the financial problem. He suggested that a high-level group be appointed to analyze the question and find a solution. The group might consist of four members: a U.S. chairman, a British and a French member, and a representative of the smaller countries. This study could not appropriately be made by the North Atlantic Council Deputies. These experts should of course have access to all data. He did not expect this action by Ottawa but hoped it could be done before the Rome meeting.

18. Mr. Acheson replied that this problem also preoccupied Mr. Gaitskell. It was hoped that a meeting could be arranged with French and British representatives, as well as representatives of other departments of the U.S. Government, to discuss this problem. It was generally agreed that such a meeting would be useful prior to the Ottawa session of the North Atlantic Council, and the afternoon of September 14 was considered a possible date.


19. It was agreed that the press should be informed as to the participants of this meeting. It should be stated that the discussions were in preparation for the tripartite meeting tomorrow and included Indochina and Germany.

  1. For documentation on U.S. interest in the question of Indochina, see vol. vi, Part 1, pp. 332 ff.
  2. For documentation on the TrumanPleven talks, January 29–30, at Washington, see volume iv .
  3. Regarding this assurance, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iii, pp. 1007 ff., and ibid., vol. vi, pp. 812 ff.
  4. Ante, p. 1197.
  5. For further documentation on U.S. relations with Italy, including the proposal for revision of the Treaty of Peace, see volume iv.
  6. For further documentation on the situation in Morocco and the U.S. position on the Moroccan question at the United Nations, see volume v.
  7. Not printed; it contained copies of the two French memoranda. (CFM files, lot M–88, box 158, WFM British and French talks, memo)