740.5/9–254: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1


1330. Following replies to questions raised London’s 1120, September 2.2

Department unaware basis Scott’s impression we do not favor eight-power meeting but suspects it may derive from conversation with Departmental officer between Brussels and French debate on EDC. At that time we were inclined favor seven-power conference (i.e., without French) but this possibility no longer in our thinking at this stage, and we do not exclude possibility eight-power meeting. [Page 1148] However, Department feels primary requirement in present situation is for NATO Ministerial meeting, agenda for which would be drawn in general terms set forth Topol 222 (repeated London 1232).3 It would further be our hope that such conference would concern itself with question of alternatives, provided sufficient meeting of minds obtained by that time. We do not think an eight-power conference would be adequate substitute for NATO Ministerial meeting but feel that it might be useful preliminary to such meeting by affording opportunity explore problem among eight powers primarily interested. You should make foregoing clear Kirkpatrick, emphasizing at same time that we do not wish take final decision until we know more clearly what British have in mind. (In this connection, Department’s only official knowledge of proposal based on paragraph in text UK instructions to Bonn re Contractual protocols given us in confidence by British Embassy on September 1 in which FonOff refers to possibility of eight-power meeting in London, to be followed by NATO Council meeting, to prepare alternative plan to EDC.)
You may also inform Kirkpatrick that while we recognize desirability earliest possible US–UK discussion on question German military contribution, it is doubtful that we will be ready before another ten days to two weeks in view necessity relating our study this problem to general reappraisal US European problems referred to by Secretary in his statement of August 31st.
Department would be grateful to receive any information which you may obtain as to whether and to what extent British may have revised their thinking on German participation in NATO with certain restrictions as set forth in Document 6 London Working Papers.
For your information Joint Chiefs are considering this British proposal in connection with their general study of alternative planning.
FYI Canadians have today informed us they feel question German participation Western defense should be considered in NATO and not eight-power forum, even though Canada were added to latter.4
Italians today stated that their Permanent Representation to NAC instructed Italy has in principle no objection to advanced meeting NAC, but should first see what emerges in next few weeks, especially following developments of UK initiative to call 8 power conference.5
If 8-power meeting develops, inclined to favor formula be found to include Canadians.
Understand from UK Embassy Eden thinking of Sept 15 for 8-power meeting, which, if held, would be early for us in terms our projected status preparation, and has difficulty for us that Secretary will not then be available.6
  1. Drafted by Joseph Palmer; cleared with Murphy, Lyon, WE, and BNA; and repeated to Paris and Bonn.
  2. Ante, p. 1130.
  3. Not printed; it recommended 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. A memorandum of this conversation between officials of the Department of State and the Canadian Embassy is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 375.
  5. A memorandum of this conversation with Italian Ambassador Tarchiani, including as an enclosure a memorandum from the Italian Government concerning the EDC, is in Department of State file 740.5/9–354.
  6. In telegram 1176 from London, Sept. 6, the Embassy informed the Department of State that Prime Minister Churchill in particular and the British Government in general were most anxious to avoid any delay such as outlined in the source text. Accordingly Eden sent a message to Secretary Dulles asking him to return from Manila through London if at all possible. (740.5/9–654) For the text of Eden’s message to Dulles, see telegram Dulte 11 from Manila, Sept. 7, p. 1151.