Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant)



  • Saar


  • Premier Mendes-France
  • Ambassador Bonnet
  • The Secretary
  • Livingston T. Merchant

The Secretary told M. Mendes-France that since the talk at the White House1 we had given this matter further consideration and that [Page 1485] he felt the Premier was entitled to know that our preliminary thinking was to the effect that it would not be possible to give a fresh committal to support the Saar settlement in the Peace Treaty except under the unlikely circumstances that the Germans as well as the French ask for such a committal. He mentioned the fact that provision had been made in the TeitgenAdenauer agreement2 last spring for the French to approach us and the British on this subject. Mendes-France pointed out that this had been merely a reservation by the French Delegation of its right to request such a guarantee.

Mendes-France spoke of the delicacy of this matter and the importance of a satisfactory response by us to the ratification by France.

The Secretary replied that the scales were so delicately balanced in the matter of the Saar as between France and Germany that we were not disposed to take any action which might be disturbing.

Mendes-France argued that there should be no difficulty for us if we made our committal subject to our support conforming to the wishes of the Saar population as expressed at the time of the peace conference. He also expressed the hope that we might be able to do something after ratification if not before.

The Secretary said that we had not of course fully explored the matter yet but he didn’t want the Premier to be in any doubt as to our thinking. He added that apart from legal and constitutional questions, the controlling consideration in his mind would be the avoidance of any risk of an action on our part being responsible for failure of ratification of the complex of Paris agreements by all the countries.

  1. For a record of Mendès-France’s meeting with President Eisenhower on Nov. 18, see the U.S. Minutes, supra.
  2. For information concerning the TeitgenAdenauer Agreement, signed in Strasbourg on May 22, 1954, see the editorial note, p. 967.