The Ambassador in France ( Dillon ) to the Department of State 1
938. Mendes asked me to come and see him this morning at Marly. When I arrived he said that he was very tired and suggested that we take a walk in the park, which we did for about 45 minutes. He said that he was presently engaged in remaking his Government which he considered to be a necessary waste of valuable time. He said that he intended to replace 33 pro[anti]-EDC ministers, who had resigned, with men who were in favor of EDC and who had voted that way in the Assembly. He was finding this task very difficult as the important pro-EDC figures would not join his government, and those pro-EDC men who were willing to join did not seem to have enough importance or ability to hold ministerial rank.
Regarding the 3 vacancies created by the earlier Gaullist resignations he said it was his present intention to take possibly one of the three ministers who had resigned back into his Government to indicate that there was no enmity between him and the Gaullist Party. In answer to a question he said that he would probably take back Chaban-Delmas but that he definitely would not take back General Koenig.
After this conversation Mendes said that he had been pleased by the Secretary’s statement regarding EDC,2 as he had feared and expected something much stronger. I told him that he should be under no illusions as to the strength of the feeling on the subject in Washington and he said that he realized how the United States felt and he fully realized what a great disappointment the defeat of EDC had been. He then related at some length his earlier arguments to show that there never had been a majority in favor of EDC. He said that if Monday’s vote had been taken on EDC directly rather than on a procedural question, and if the Government had been allowed to vote as they pleased, there would have been 350 votes against EDC.
I told Mendes it was difficult for us to understand why he had not wished to go back to Brussels for a second try. He replied that he had been willing to do this but that Rene Mayer in his speech had accused [Page 1133] him of sabotaging the Brussels conference and that therefore it made it necessary for him to ask specific approval of his conduct at Brussels which the pro-EDC people were not willing to give. He said he considered that Rene Mayer had broken the agreement which had been reached in the Cabinet earlier regarding his willingness to go back to Brussels.
Mendes then said that he had intended to make a dramatic move immediately after the close of the EDC debate. He had intended to send Adenauer a telegram asking if he could come to Bonn to visit Adenauer to discuss the situation. He said that this telegram had been all drafted and was ready for transmission Monday night3 when he was informed of the Reynaud petition and the fact that the debate was going to be reopened on Tuesday. This made it impossible for him to send a telegram at that time and then yesterday had come the report of Adenauer’s meeting with the public statement indicating that the Germans did not wish to talk further with the French. Mendes said that he could well understand the German position and was not too upset by it as he considered it primarily a question of internal politics. He quoted Tallyrand in this connection, saying “that which I exaggerated is of no importance”. Mendes said that nevertheless he would like to go immediately to Bonn to see Adenauer but that he did not know just how to proceed. If he should ask Adenauer if he could come and see him and Adenauer should say “no” Mendes felt that the result on French opinion would be catastrophic coming after the way Adenauer had rebuffed his approaches at Brussels. I asked Mendes if he could not have Francois-Poncet make discreet inquiries and Mendes said that this would not be possible as it could not be kept from the public. He reverted to this subject two or three times during our conversation and finally mentioned it again just as I was leaving. I got the definite impression that he hoped that we would informally contact Adenauer to see if he would be willing to receive Mendes at Bonn. If Mendes were to receive informal assurances from us that Adenauer would be receptive to such a suggestion I am sure that he would proceed immediately to suggest to Adenauer that they hold a meeting at Bonn.
Mendes then said he was not quite clear on what the program was from now on as the Secretary had spoken of a meeting of the NATO Council, which of course was agreeable to him, but at the same time the British had suggested an 8-power meeting. He said that he was inclined to prefer the British suggestion as it foresaw a meeting taking place very promptly and he felt that there was not time to waste.
Mendes said that as far as France was concerned he had committed himself to ratify the Bonn convention subject to a clause postponing [Page 1134] German rearmament. He said there would be initial difficulties with the French assembly but that he was prepared to make this a question of confidence and that he felt that given the full backing of the United States and United Kingdom he would be successful in obtaining the approval of the Bonn convention by a large majority. He said that the Communists would of course oppose the Bonn conventions and that this would please him as it would disassociate the Communists from his majority. He emphasized that the vote on the Bonn conventions must be simple and uncomplicated and something that would be easy for the Assembly to understand. He expressed some concern at the German position that the Bonn conventions were no longer satisfactory. He said that he could fully understand why they wanted something more and personally he was in favor of giving it to them. However that would require a complicated renegotiation and would make the problem with the French Assembly much more difficult. Mendes argumentation along this line was practically identical to that in Deptel 623 to Bonn repeated Paris 802, London 1254.4 He said that he felt that after the Bonn conventions had been ratified, it would be possible to make steady and rapid progress toward the granting of full sovereignty to Germany, but that what was important was to get a favorable vote on the first step.
Regarding a defense contribution for Germany, he said that he had no very clear-cut ideas but that there should be immediate negotiations and a final agreement should be reached no later than the first of November. The final agreement should be simple and easy and very short. When I asked him if he had any particular thoughts in mind on this subject he said only that the most important thing from the French point of view was to have a close association with the United Kingdom. Therefore he would hope for some sort of a little NATO including the United Kingdom. He repeated almost word for word what he had told me at our last interview regarding his ideas on German rearmament (Embtel 7475).
Finally Mendes said that a Saar settlement would have to be part of the final arrangements with Germany. I asked him whether this meant that a Saar settlement would be tied to the ratification of the Bonn contractuals, or whether it would only be tied to the settlement of the question of rearmament. Mendes replied he personally would rather it was only tied in with the rearmament problem but that Rene Mayer had during the last week spoken twice in the Foreign Affairs Committee and once in the Assembly to the effect that he would never approve the Bonn conventions until a Saar settlement had been reached. If Rene Mayer proved to have much following on this subject it would be necessary to reach a Saar settlement simultaneously or [Page 1135] prior to the ratification of the Bonn accords. Mendes said that he felt he could settle the Saar in two days conversation with Adenauer. He said that he had not studied the question in great detail and did not want to commit himself on the detailed wording of the Teitgen–Adenauer agreement but that he was in full accord with the general outline of that agreement. He said that in his view the fact that the French Assembly had been against supra-national clauses in the EDC did not mean at all that the idea of European unity should be shelved, and that he still foresaw the Saar settlement taking place in the framework of a future European political community.
During the course of our conversation Mendes asked me what the United States and United Kingdom proposals were on the question of giving sovereignty to Germany. I told him that I hoped to be ready to see him tomorrow, Friday, with Jebb to give him our joint proposals but that I was not yet free to do so. I had talked to Jebb just before going to see Mendes and Jebb said he had as yet not received any instructions on this subject from London but he would telephone and clear the matter up during the course of the day.6
- Transmitted in two sections to the Department of State and repeated to Bonn, London, and Manila, where Dulles was attending the Manila Conference of Sept. 6–8; documentation concerning the Manila Conference is presented in volume xii .↩
- For the text of the statement by Dulles on Aug. 31, see p. 1120.↩
- Aug. 30.↩
- Dated Sept. 2, p. 1128.↩
- Dated Aug. 24, p. 1071.↩
- In telegram 942 from Paris, Sept. 2, Dillon informed the Department of State that during his conversation with Mendès-France reported in telegram 938 he had asked Mendès-France what his ideas were concerning possible controls of German rearmament. He replied that he realized there could be no discrimination and that everyone would have to accept any controls that were proposed which meant that the controls would have to be considerably weaker than those provided in the EDC plan. (740.5/9–254)↩