740.5/9–254: Telegram

The United States Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council (Hughes) to the Department of State 1


Polto 321. Limited distribution. Subject: Proposed NATO Ministerial Meeting. Ref: Polto 309, rptd London Polto 70.2

As noted reftel, NATO reps all welcomed enthusiastically, although in most cases personally, initiative taken by US in calling for NATO ministerial meeting.3 Discussion implied their understanding ministerial meeting would be called upon to deal with entire complex [Page 1136] of problems created in Western alliance by failure of EDC. No distinction was made by any member between political problems that might be resolved by US–UK protocols and problem of arrangements for German military contribution, although of course possible such distinction might have been implicit in their minds. Despite general understanding that NATO ministerial meeting would be seized of totality of problems raised by French action, believe there was general understanding that substantial amount of preparatory work would be necessary for ministerial meeting to be in fact fruitful.
In view welcome given Secretary’s statement and in view prevailing atmosphere of anger and uncertainty re future of alliance, believe it essential to keep NATO Council fully informed of all steps being taken to deal with crisis, to consult it as fully as possible about proposed procedures and measures, and to use perm reps to maximum extent feasible in handling necessary work of preparation for ministerial meeting.
Believe if this general approach followed consistently, should be no difficulty in securing understanding of necessity, as part of preparatory program linked directly to ministerial meeting, of consultation among more limited groups. For example, occupying powers and Germans would be recognized as in best and legally appropriate position for dealing with contractual question provided it can be divorced from military issues. UK-proposed group of eight, consisting of countries best informed on problems involved in German military contribution, might be equally accepted as necessary to work out plan for that field. We believe these types of preparatory steps are useful and necessary, but wish urge that Council be brought into picture to maximum extent possible at each stage.
As example of implementation of policy proposed above, we recommend that if Adenauer accepts protocols, at least as basis for discussion, text be promptly circulated to other NATO countries perhaps day after distribution to EDC countries, and that shortly thereafter discussion of them be held in private NAC session. By same token believe reasons for eight-power talks, if US, UK and others decide to go ahead with them, should be explained to Council, their link to NATO ministerial meeting made clear, and perhaps tacit approval secured in advance final public decision. De Staercke advised me this morning that Spaak felt would be difficult to reject proposal of eight-power meeting, and thought if it took place it should be considered as preparatory meeting to NAC ministerial meeting later. Steel said this afternoon he personally had recommended to Roberts that any invitation issued for conference of eight state that it was preparatory meeting to later NAC.

(a) Consistent also with this approach we urge that by early next week we be prepared propose to NAC limited number alternatives re time and place ministerial meeting and seek their agreement these points. Cooperation in this matter is not assisted by stories appearing in French press with Washington dateline about US Govt intentions prior to our receipt of such info, let alone consultation with NATO countries, as did occur yesterday. This leak makes early formal action important.

(b) On basis informal soundings, our present belief is meeting should be tentatively scheduled for early Oct with understanding preparatory work must proceed satisfactorily to meet this date, and that Council will be kept informed of such progress in order that date may be re-examined if necessary. Nevertheless believe relatively firm date agreed soon will assist in giving sense of urgency to preparatory work.

(c) We believe that psychological factors of substantial importance in selecting location for meeting. For this reason we fairly automatically rule out Paris and have grave doubts about wisdom of any location in US, despite fact may be convenient few ministers attending UN General Assembly to meet in New York. In course contacts we have been able make, have not found any govt which feels this should be considered major factor and number of them believe problem best settled where it is, namely, in Europe. Our own preference is for Rome. Apart from obvious general prestige factors from Italian point of view (important since failure EDC appears to present grave difficulties for Italian foreign policy), choice of Rome would underline fact that NATO countries do not consider Italian delay on EDC ratification puts Italians in same category as French.

(d) These conclusions re time and place represent best we have been able to do checking informally. Many perm reps not in Paris at present. Will cable further tomorrow giving additional reactions as result of further informal talks with reps or dels. Personally would hope that time and place of meeting could be set at NAC meeting Thursday Sept 9 at latest.4

While do not believe can be precise about agenda until preparatory work further advanced, consider would be helpful be able clarify soon whether we wish meeting to deal with totality of problem or merely military aspects. We would hope would be possible next week to make some statement on this and try to reach agreement in Council. Whether or not there would need to be affirmative actions re implications [Page 1138] of failure of EDC for 54 it will presumably depend on solution reached re German defense contribution. There is, however, active interest in this question.
Would be most helpful to us if we could receive indication of latest Washington thinking on substantive arrangements to be sought as alternative to EDC. Most recent info we have is copy of draft Departmental position paper dated 27 July,5 which seems to us outmoded in some important respects.
  1. Transmitted in two sections to the Department of State and repeated to London.
  2. Not printed; it reported on a private session of the North Atlantic Council on Sept. 1 during which various Permanent Representatives gave their initial reaction to Secretary Dulles’ statement of Aug. 31. (740.5/9–154)
  3. In telegram Topol 222 to Paris, Sept. 1, the Department of State instructed Hughes to recommend an emergency meeting of the full NATO Ministerial Council for the general purpose of considering the serious situation created for NATO by the French rejection of the EDC (740.5/9–154).
  4. In telegram Polto 325 from Paris, Sept. 3, Hughes informed the Department of State that while there was little agreement among the Permanent Representatives concerning the location of the next NAC Ministerial meeting, although several voiced strong objections against the possible choice of New York or Paris, the consensus seemed to favor the convening of an NAC Ministerial meeting no later than early October. (740.5/9–354)
  5. The editors were unable to further identify the position paper under reference here.