No. 256


Memorandum of Conversation, by Joseph N. Greene of the Office of Western European Affairs

top secret

Subject: Military Clauses of the Italian Peace Treaty

Participants: Mr. Boyd, First Secretary, British Embassy
Mr. Greene, WE

Mr. Boyd had left with me a Memorandum1 containing the Foreign Office’s informal views on the procedure to be followed with respect to the military limitations of the Italian Peace Treaty. I had indicated that we did not think it timely to pursue the subject at this time and would therefore prefer not to see the Foreign Office views now. Mr. Boyd had indicated that his instructions required him to leave the Memorandum, as the Foreign Office wanted the ball in our court. We had left it that I would get in touch with him.

Mr. Boyd came in today at my request and I asked whether a copy of their Memorandum had gone to the French. Mr. Boyd replied that it had not. I said that we would give the Foreign Office Memorandum our attention in due course, but that the Department’s feeling is that, with the beginning of exploratory talks with the Soviets now imminent, it is preferable not to pursue the subject of the Italian Treaty further until the outcome of those exploratory talks becomes clearer. I said that I would let Mr. Boyd know in due course any further views we might have.

Mr. Boyd said that it had been the Foreign Office’s intention to continue discussions on the Italian treaty at a working level between the State Department and the Foreign Office, through the British Embassy with the idea of evolving a generally acceptable position which could then be submitted to the British Foreign Secretary and by him to the Cabinet. The question has not gone that high in the British Government, and it is not the Foreign Office’s intention to give anything to the French until it has the approval of the Cabinet.2

  1. The memorandum presented the position of the British Foreign Office which was that the only possible course of action was to keep the Italian Peace Treaty theoretically in being and to continue the system of merely not objecting to infringements that were made as long as they were in the interest of NATO. (665.001/2–2751)
  2. In a memorandum of March 1, Bonbright noted that he informed Perkins and Matthews that his office attempted to get the British to hold back and not to present this memorandum to the Department. The British responded that they were under firm instructions to present the paper. Bonbright went on to suggest that the British be informed once again that we did not consider this to be an opportune time to discuss this question. (665.001/3–151)