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, United Kingdom, and France Held at Washington, September 12, 1951, 10:30 a.m.


U.S.–Tri. Min–1

Mr. Acheson (U.S.)
Mr. Morrison (U.K.)
M. Schuman (Fr.)
Also Present
U.S. U.K. France
Mr. Jessup Sir Oliver Franks M. Bonnet
Admiral Wright Sir Pierson Dixon M. Alphand
Mr. Spofford

[Here follows a table of contents.]

Press Relations

1. Mr. Acheson noted that the impression had been received from the French press officer that the French delegation intended to brief [Page 1258] the press thoroughly on all events that occurred at the meetings. He wished to have a clear understanding about this so that completely frank and free discussion could exist at the meetings. Mr. Schuman said that it was not the intention of the French to brief the press. Mr. Morrison suggested that the three press officers get together at the close of each meeting and agree upon some minimum statement that could be made without embarrassment to the participants. Mr. Acheson and Mr. Schuman agreed to this procedure.

Survey of Progress in Policy of Containment of Soviet Union and Its Satellites

2. Mr. Morrison said that he had suggested this topic merely to give the ministers an opportunity to survey the situation and the actions and policies which were intended to secure the peace of Europe and the world. The Western countries had sought to make clear to the Soviet Union that if it continued with its policy of aggression the West would resist. The West had succeeded at slowing down or perhaps stopping Soviet aggressive policies. This was true, particularly in Korea. There were, however, other points in the world in which danger still existed mainly the Middle East. The backward and difficult areas of the Middle East were strategically important to the southern perimeter of the Soviet Union.

3. Mr. Morrison suggested that there should be a joint study of this area where a gap exists in policies for effective containment of the Soviet Union. There might be a time when the containment policy is successful and forces of the free world approximate those of the Soviet Union and its satellites. When that point is reached it should be obvious that hostilities would be a danger to both sides; but another danger would arise from this situation, namely a period of tension which would exist both in the Communist world and in the free world caused by the fear that the other may precipitate the third world war. It was important that [no?] action should be taken which would inadvertently precipitate a third world war and, therefore, it was necessary to consider what policies might endanger peace. In this consideration it would be wise to keep in mind not only those acts which would likely precipitate a war but also that the free countries must not lose their nerve and should coolly calculate the policies necessary for Western security.

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[Page 1259]

5. Mr. Morrison said in summary the West must increase its military strength, its unity and means of consultation. The West must be ready for a real change of heart in the USSR but should make sure that such a change was made in good faith. Mr. Morrison reemphasized the need for constant consultation.1

6. Mr. Schuman said that he fully agreed with Mr. Morrison’s statement and noted that the word “containment” contained no connotation of aggression but merely meant preventing one country from endangering the peace. All were happy that in Korea results had been obtained. These were mainly attributable to U.S. efforts. The French had at the same time been met with some success in Indochina also with containment in mind. If containment is the aim of Western policy then in Korea it must be made clear that the only aim is to secure the defense of the area and an armistice based on defense. The West must avoid giving the Soviets the idea that they were being encircled and that all their outlets cut off. This raised the question of how far the West should go to extend NATO and still remain faithful to the policy of defense. The West must measure its resources and not spread them too thinly in attempting to cover the geographic advantage of the Soviets. The West could not be equally strong in all points. In light of the astronomical expenditures being made for the defense of the West, Mr. Schuman wondered how far it was possible to go without seriously hurting Western economies. Defensive forces must be placed where they would do the most good, but the West should not give the impression to the Soviet Bloc, to other countries, or even to elements in the three countries that aggression was intended. It was for this reason that Western Germany had not been given an army which could unify all Germany by force. At the same time we must not show fear or disunity. France had always maintained that it was necessary to consult not only through diplomatic channels but through high level groups in order to agree upon what resources are available and how they might be used. Such consultation would also assist in the formulation of the global strategy of the West.

[Page 1260]

7. Mr. Acheson said that advances had been made in the policy of containment in Europe and indeed the Soviets had lost ground in Yugoslavia. If the West continued to build its strength without undermining its economies, it could succeed. The U.S. was in agreement that provocative actions should be avoided. The West must continually watch for ways in which the Soviets might try to slow down the progress of the free world or to divide the countries from each other. Looking to the Near East and Far East both problems were disturbing and Mr. Acheson agreed to a combined study on the Middle East and Far East. He mentioned the great troubles existing in Iran with the Arabs, with Egypt, with Pakistan and India. He believed that the Soviets would not be wise to resort to aggression in the Middle East since they had enough allies in the form of troubles without the risk of aggression. Those making a combined study of the Middle East would find complex problems. No extensive forces were available in those areas and Western economies were already strained to achieve present goals. The study should answer two major questions:

What measures must the West take so that Western countries would not be identified as opponents of nationalism?
What must be done to place in constructive channels those forces started by Western countries which were ripe for extreme nationalistic or communistic agitation. In the Far East almost the entire area was at war and these hostilities were created and kept alive by the Soviet Union.

Mr. Schuman had talked with Mr. Acheson with regard to Indochina and Mr. Morrison had talked about Malaya and the efforts being made in both of these areas by France and Great Britain.2 The strain on both U.S. manpower and material resources caused by the Korean war might slow U.S. efforts to accomplish the MTDP. At present it seemed that the only way to solve the problems in the Far East was by military action, although if other solutions could be presented they would be most welcome.


All three ministers agreed to a combined study on the Middle East and Far East.

[Page 1261]

Atlantic and Mediterranean Commands 3

8. Admiral Wright , at the suggestion of Mr. Acheson, reported to the ministers on the progress of the Standing Group on this problem. Admiral Wright briefly mentioned the origin of this question at Brussels and noted that it was still pending before the NAT Deputies. On the recommendations of General Eisenhower a command of the south flank was established to take charge of the land campaign and to establish a line of communications. This had to be done in cooperation with all countries in the area. When General Eisenhower made his proposals, he recognized that the relationship of Greece and Turkey to the NAT had not been established. The Deputies had asked the Study Group to answer 14 questions to increase their understanding and to advise the Deputies how Greece and Turkey might be admitted to NATO. A detailed study was prepared by the Standing Group which was made more difficult since NAT countries had differing ideas on the admission of Greece and Turkey if admitted what their relation to the Organization should be. The Standing Group believed that a Unified Military Command in the Middle East must be established particularly to provide for the participation of Turkey. As a starting point, it was believed that Greece being more closely related to Europe should be under General Eisenhower’s command rather than the Middle East Command. Turkey being primarily a Middle Eastern country should be a part of the Middle Eastern Command. The Standing Group was conscious of the fact some of the NAT countries would not wish to be connected with a command over territory beyond the North Atlantic Community, nor should such a command be concerned with matters not pertaining to the Middle Eastern area. Thus, the Middle Eastern Commander must be responsible to NATO on matters concerning Europe but must be responsible to another body concerning the territories. The report of the Standing Group also provided means by which the Middle East Command would be coordinated with General Eisenhower’s command.

9. Mr. Schuman said that he saw the difficulty of bringing together military and political questions under this command. First it was necessary to have a new command since the forces would be largely [Page 1262] Turkish. In the second place, however, it would appear necessary for political questions to be handled by a political structure other than NATO and as yet unknown.

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  1. For documentation on the Soviet Union, see volume iv.
  2. For a record of Schuman’s discussion with Acheson on Indochina, see U.S.–Fr. Min–1, p. 1249; regarding Morrison’s discussion with Acheson on Malaya, see U.S.–U.K. Min–2, Item 13, p. 1243.
  3. For further documentation on the question of Atlantic and Mediterranean Commands in NATO, see pp. 460 ff.