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

United States Delegation Minutes of the Seventh Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the United States, United Kingdom, and France Held at Washington, September 14, 1951, 4 p.m.

Tripartite Min–7
Mr. Acheson (U.S.)
Mr. Morrison (U.K.)
M. Schuman (Fr.)
Also Present
U.S. U.K. France
Mr. Jessup Sir Oliver Franks M. Baeyens
Mr. Merchant Sir Pierson Dixon M. Alphand

[Here follows a table of contents.]

Middle East Command

1. Mr. Morrison opened the meeting by reading a statement on the Middle East Command. He said that in the course of the “first” Tripartite meeting the question of the Standing Group proposals for a Middle East Command had been left open for further consideration (U.S.–Tri. Min–1, September 12, 19511). He recalled that M. Schuman had said he could accept the Standing Group proposals on two conditions. (See Tripartite Minutes–2, September 12, 1951, Paragraph 2.2) The British could now agree to the first French condition. It had always been the British view that the NE Command would be a fully integrated Allied command. It would, of course, be for the Supreme Commander himself to designate the precise post. With regard to the second condition relating to a French naval command in the western Mediterranean, he felt this was a technical matter which the Foreign Ministers should not attempt to solve, but which should be passed to the Standing Group, who were, he understood, almost in agreement. In Ottawa the Defense Ministers should be in a position to agree at the ministerial level. Mr. Morrison said he viewed the French proposal with sympathy and agreed to it in principle. He was confident technical details could be resolved during the next day or two. If the US could also accept the French position, he hoped that M. Schuman could now accept the SG proposals. If this were possible, he believed the Ministers should turn their attention to the following immediate steps: (1) agree at Ottawa that Turkey and Greece should be invited [Page 1292] to join NATO, (2) the Turkish Government should be approached immediately thereafter regarding the proposals on the ME Command, and (3) when Turkish agreement has been received, an approach should be made to the King of Egypt in order to determine how best to approach the Egyptian Government. As he had previously explained (see Paragraphs 10 and 11, U.S.–U.K. Minutes–1, September 10, 19513) it was essential for the Allies to retain the Egyptian base for the new Allied command. This must be done quickly or we might be in a position where the Egyptians would refuse. Following this there would be approaches to other Middle Eastern and Commonwealth countries. What to say to Israel would also have to be considered. The purpose of the British proposals was to reach a stage where the three governments could announce the establishment of a Middle East Command as quickly as possible. Owing to political necessities, he felt UK could not go ahead with vital NATO matters such as the announcement of the Atlantic Command until the Middle East Command could also be announced. He believed it was essential to talk the problem over before the Ottawa meeting, and he hoped M. Schuman was able to indicate at least tentative agreement.

2. M. Schuman thanked Mr. Morrison for his declaration of understanding for the French position. He said that he had sent messages in the previous two days to Paris indicating the urgency of this matter. He had received a preliminary reply and thought he would be able to give a final answer at Ottawa on Monday, which he hoped would be favorable. The French Minister of Defense was in transit to Ottawa and had been out of reach for consultation. With regard to the question of approaching Egypt, M. Schuman had telephoned Paris and hoped to give a final answer soon, which he hoped would be favorable. He mentioned that in the plan to approach Middle Eastern countries, consideration be given to the position of Syria and The Lebanon.

3. Mr. Morrison said he did not know if the agenda item proposing membership for Greece and Turkey was due to come up Monday morning or afternoon. He indicated that if the French could indicate their answer before then, it would be of great value. M. Schuman suggested the timing of the agenda could be discussed with Chairman Van Zeeland. Mr. Morrison said he had authority from his Government to agree to the admission of Greece and Turkey, but he wanted approval of the Standing Group proposals for the Middle East Command before the vote on the admission question, if at all possible. He was not proposing to make the foregoing public, but as M. Schuman could understand “the road would then be clear”. With regard to M. Schuman’s point on Syria and the Lebanon, he desired to say “Yes” in principle, but the matter was one of timing and there undoubtedly [Page 1293] would be consultation between the representatives of the three governments participating in the Middle East Command. M. Schuman said that we must also see on what contractual basis the structure would rest, but that that was a problem for the future. Mr. Acheson said that the Standing Group would have a proposal establishing a basis on which the Command could be implemented. The United States was in agreement with the proposals of the Standing Group and had been informed that with regard to the question of a French naval command, the Standing Group had already made a proposal to the French which the United States hoped would be satisfactory. He understood the appropriate military authorities had already relayed his latest proposal to Paris. Mr. Acheson then said that he believed he ought to raise one point to prevent the possibility of any future argument. As he understood the UK position, it, in effect, established a condition on which a favorable British vote to admit Greece and Turkey rested. This was understandable. However, he hoped it did not mean that the election to membership would be conditional. Mr. Morrison replied the less said regarding conditions the better. M. Schuman indicated that he understood the steps to be taken.

Far East

4. M. Schuman said that he believed the Ministers would be interested in information from Mr. Acheson regarding Korea, the military situation in general, and any forecast which could be made regarding the possibility of an armistice. Mr. Acheson set forth the military situation as based on current reports from the JCS and proceeded to explain what steps the United States proposed to take in case an armistice was agreed in Korea. He next outlined the steps which we propose to take if no armistice was established. This entire discussion followed closely the exposition reported in Paragraphs 1–15 of the minutes of the second US–UK meeting on September 10, 1951.4 M. Schuman thanked Mr. Acheson and indicated there was no need for discussion. He said he assumed that any questions arising in the future would be discussed in the Consultative Committee of the United Nations. Mr. Morrison said that he would report to his colleagues and see how they reacted to the US proposals. He reiterated his doubt regarding the effectiveness of a blockade or “embargo” and pointed out that Hong Kong must trade with the mainland to live. He said he believed Communist China was not a servile satellite of the USSR and that he did not desire to take any steps which would drive her toward the Soviets.

[Page 1294]


5. M. Schuman said that he desired to report briefly on the situation in Indochina. The military situation was much improved after many setbacks last year. General de Lattre had reestablished the position from a political and psychological point of view. The latter was particularly important from the standpoint of the Indochinese. France was taking steps to implement its agreement with the Associated States and was assisting in the development of the armies of the States. Mobilization had been decided upon and would occur after October 1. The main responsibility of the force of the Associated States would be the defense of the interior. The French Army would be responsible for the area in the north. The situation in the northern area worried them. They did not know what the nature of Chinese intervention would be. If an armistice was reached in Korea, this would increase the danger, because Chinese “volunteers” would be freed for action against Indochina. If this occurred it would create a new situation affecting the interests of all three powers in the area. The three countries should keep in close contact and should carry out consultations similar to those held at the Singapore Conference. The French Government strongly believed such consultations should be continued and before a crisis arrived. He said that, finally, he would like to ask for the conclusions of the US and UK regarding the Singapore Conference. He did not expect an immediate answer. He said the Conference had made recommendations of a military nature which France had accepted, but he did not know if the US and UK had.

6. Mr. Morrison expressed appreciation for M. Schuman’s outline and said he was glad to hear that the military situation was improved. He desired to express on behalf of his people their admiration for the French effort in Indochina and particularly for the achievements of General de Lattre. He had noted M. Schuman’s wish for further tripartite military talks and would consult his government. The conclusions of the Singapore Conference were under consideration at the present time by the British Chiefs as were some of the other points raised by M. Schuman. He desired to say he was wholeheartedly behind the general approach but could not be more specific at this juncture.

7. Mr. Acheson said that the United States regarded as of vital importance the operations in Indochina. It was of great importance that the area be held. While the Ministers were in Ottawa, United States Government representatives, including the Secretary of Defense, would be working with de Lattre and considering problems of the type mentioned by M. Schuman. The Department of Defense had been discussing a number of problems with French military representatives in Washington and had raised some technical questions, the [Page 1295] answers to which were now being sought in Paris. The economic problems of Indochina would also be discussed while General de Lattre was in this country. M. Schuman said he wanted to thank his colleagues for their consideration and understanding of the Indochina problem and for their kind words regarding General de Lattre. He very much appreciated their recognition of Indochina as a part of the common cause.

8. Mr. Morrison , in closing, said that he desired to state his sincere appreciation for the excellent manner in which Secretary Acheson had conducted the conference, and was profuse in his praise of the Secretary’s tact and ability. He said that this was the first “high-powered” conference he had attended and he was impressed with the value of such conferences. He hoped that they could be held oftener, since he believed it was valuable to exchange ideas. He had been surprised and pleased by the high percentage of agreement which had been reached during this meeting. He said the success of the conference owes a big debt to Secretary Acheson and that he felt that it could be truly said this was the Secretary’s second big triumph in as many weeks. M. Schuman said that he had had the pleasure of dealing with Mr. Acheson for over three years and that he heartily seconded Mr. Morrison’s words of praise. Mr. Acheson thanked the Ministers for their compliments and said he would pass on their words of commendation to his organization. He was sure he could speak for M. Schuman in saying that they had found Mr. Morrison a worthy successor to his predecessor, Mr. Bevin, who had been such a fine man.

  1. Ante, p. 1257.
  2. Ante, p. 1262.
  3. Ante, p. 1228.
  4. Ante, p. 1238.