Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 102

Memorandum of Conversation, by Lucius D. Battle 1

Mr. Acheson saw Mr. Eden today on a number of problems of interest to the Ministers.2

Mr. Eden first brought up the question of the British declaration on non-secession from EDC and gave to Mr. Acheson the present draft, which is attached to this memorandum.3

Mr. Eden said that he was going to see Faure, the Prime Minister of France, who had announced he was coming to Lisbon to invite the British to join EDC. Mr. Eden said he was inclined to tell Mr. Faure about the proposed declaration.

[Page 132]

Mr. Acheson said that Mr. Schuman had remarked to him that some of the French reservations could not be taken too seriously. Mr. Acheson said that Mr. Faure had spoken to him and made the comment that there were some things which the Government must go through with, but they may or may not be able to do anything about them. Mr. Acheson said he thought probably the reservation on British membership in EDC was one of these and that probably Mr. Faure was simply going through the motions of inviting British participation.

Mr. Eden said that he was considering making his declaration next week here in Lisbon. He wanted to know whether this was agreeable to us. He said he thought it important to do it if it would help in the French vote.

Mr. Acheson said that if it would help in the French situation he was in favor of the British going ahead. He suggested that Mr. Faure could then say that he had spoken to the British about joining EDC and that the British non-secession declaration had grown out of their conversation. Mr. Acheson thought this would help the French somewhat.

The question was brought up of whether Mr. Acheson was in an awkward position when he failed to make a statement following Mr. Eden’s. It was generally agreed that it could not do any serious damage and would be understood since Mr. Acheson was far away from his own Government, and the constitutional difficulty would be apparent to everyone.

Mr. Eden said that the British were often accused of doing nothing regarding Europe. He said what they did with the US was not as important as what they did alone. He, therefore, thought it would be very helpful if the UK went ahead regardless of the fact that US was unable to follow.

It was agreed that Mr. Eden would issue his declaration when it would be most helpful to the French, and that he was to check the time of the French vote and, if time permitted, delay issuance until after his return to London.4

Mr. Eden then mentioned the British financial situation and said they had serious balance of payments difficulties. Mr. Acheson said that he knew about the problem and said Mr. Snyder and Mr. Harriman had spoken to him about it and the US was working on it. Mr. Eden [Page 133] said that the British had gotten very little cash from us since the end of 1950.

Mr. Eden then brought up Hong Kong and said that we both had complaints we could make about the other there. He said that there was a great deal of unemployment in Hong Kong and that they were urgently in need of cotton to go into the manufacturing industries and thus decrease unemployment. He said he knew we had worries about goods being shipped into China from Hong Kong. But that he thought we were willing to accept now that things were not going in there to the extent that we had believed. He said the British would give us a note on this, matter very soon and he hoped we would consider it carefully.

Mr. Acheson said that we had recently set up a new set of rules which he thought were somewhat more liberal. Sir Pierson Dixon said that he thought our new rules would not aid in the cotton situation. Mr. Acheson promised to look into it after the note was given to us.5

The two Ministers then moved to the discussion of Austria, at Mr. Acheson’s suggestion.

Mr. Acheson said that he had been considering the last paragraph of the communiqué.6 We wanted to omit one step, which was provided for in this paragraph. This step asked the USSR to instruct its deputy to attend a meeting of the deputies to consider the treaty. We thought this would result in a long delay, and we might find ourselves with a reply from the Russians to the effect that they would be glad to talk about it, but wanted to add Trieste or other problems. Mr. Acheson said that he thought we had already taken this step.

Mr. Eden said that he had no objection to leaving it out if we could work out the language of the communiqué. He said he had some doubt as to the meaning of the language as it stood. It sounded as though we might be doing something like throwing the Russians out of Austria [Page 134] or something to that effect. He said it sounded as though we would take drastic steps.

The Secretary and Mr. Eden agreed that this language should be worked over and the ideas of further initiative on the part of the three be worked in. It was generally believed that the lapse of time between the issuance of the communiqué and the announcement on the short form treaty made this desirable, as the looseness of the language as presently drafted might be interpreted as threats, etc. Mr. Perkins and Sir Pierson Dixon are to look into that portion.

Mr. Acheson then said that the other question was whether the short form treaty was an alternative to the longer one and whether it would be presented to the Russians as an alternative. He said he thought that in our presentation to the Russians we might simply not answer that question at all. We might simply continue to focus our attention on the short form. If the Russians brought up the question of the old treaty, we could ask whether they were willing to sign it. If they should say they were willing to sign the old treaty, we would, of course, have to do it.

Mr. Eden expressed surprise that this question was not solved, as he thought they had agreed to handle it in this manner in the discussions in Washington. Mr. Perkins pointed out that the High Commissioners had raised the question again. Mr. Acheson said he thought that the High Commissioners were trying to answer a question which it was not necessary to answer. He mentioned again that no one was suggesting withdrawing anything, and he thought we went ahead with it, dealing with it in terms of alternatives.

Mr. Acheson then mentioned the questions of the reorganization of NATO and the location of headquarters.

He said he thought Mr. Pearson would take the job of Secretary General if he were asked to do so. Mr. Acheson said that Mr. St. Laurent had, he understood, told Mr. Pearson that he would be sorry to lose him, but would approve his accepting it if he thought the interest of the world required him to do so. Mr. Acheson said he thought Mr. Pearson would probably be glad to take the job, provided sufficient action were taken here on the EDC and related matters to give him a really constructive job. He said that if action were not taken here, he did not think Mr. Pearson would want the job. Mr. Acheson said that the functions of the Secretary General would determine who it would be and that we must solve the matter in order to put final touches on the organizational changes.

Mr. Eden said, “Mike is the sort of person we want.” This remark was made after the Secretary had discussed briefly the desirability of getting a former foreign minister or someone of that level to accept the position. The implication of Mr. Eden’s remark was that he thought Mr. Pearson would be perfectly acceptable and that he saw the [Page 135] functions of the Secretary General in about the same way as the Secretary did.

Mr. Acheson and Mr. Eden agreed to talk with Mr. Pearson at dinner tonight regarding these and related problems.7

  1. Another copy of this memorandum of conversation is included in the CFM files, lot M 88, “Lisbon mtg Feb 1952”.
  2. This meeting apparently resulted from a meeting between Perkins and Pierson Dixon on Feb. 21. At the end of their meeting, which was largely given over to a discussion of the draft statement concerning the integrity of the EDC along lines closely following the AchesonEden discussion recorded here, Perkins and Dixon talked briefly about a bilateral meeting to discuss the issue of a NATO Secretary General and the question of Austria. Perkins also mentioned that the British apparently wished to discuss Burma. Pierson was unfamiliar with the matter but indicated that the British were opposed to the establishment of any commission in connection with Chinese Nationalist troops on the Burma border. (Perkins memorandum, Feb. 21, 1952; Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 102)
  3. For the text of the draft declaration referred to here, see p. 250.
  4. In a memorandum of Feb. 23, Barnes recorded the following subsequent information on the British-French talks about a possible declaration:

    “Later in the day Sir Pierson reported that this declaration had been discussed with the French and that the French were most anxious that it not be made public at this time. Mr. Faure had felt that it might create additional difficulties for the French Government in its parliament and had therefore suggested that the British declaration might be released just before the signing of the Treaty. Sir Pierson said that the British Government proposed to go along on this time schedule, and in the meantime he hoped that the declaration would not leak to the press.” (Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 102)

  5. The discussion between Acheson and Eden regarding the need for imports of cotton into Hong Kong was briefly reported upon in a 60-word telegram, Secto 55, Feb. 23, from Lisbon. (740.5/2–2352) Transmission of this telegram followed receipt of a letter of Feb. 22 from Eden to Acheson enclosing a copy of a memorandum prepared by the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Colonies which described the serious local situation in Hong Kong resulting from (1) the control of strategic exports to China applied by NATO countries and (2) those further American measures against China including the embargo on all American exports to Hong Kong and the prohibition of imports into the United States of all goods manufactured in Hong Kong from Chinese materials. Eden’s brief letter emphasized the serious unemployment in Hong Kong resulting from the trade controls, pointed out the risk that the local population might become targets for Communist agitation, and requested that, in view of the importance of the American-British interests in maintaining a position in Hong Kong, the embargo on trade with Hong Kong be relaxed and the importation of vitally needed raw materials be allowed. (Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 102) A summary of the Eden letter and accompanying memorandum was transmitted in telegram Secto 69, Feb. 24, from Lisbon, not printed. (740.5/2–2452)

    Documentation on U.S. strategic export control policy with respect to Communist countries is presented in volume i .

  6. The text of the communiqué on Austria agreed upon at this meeting is not printed; for the final text approved by the three Foreign Ministers on Feb. 26, see telegram 2153, Feb. 27, p. 278.
  7. No record has been found of the AchesonEdenPearson dinner meeting referred to here.