396.1 WA/7–953: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Achilles) to the Department of State 1

secret
priority

134. We have noted statement in London’s 100 to Department2 just received by pouch that British would be prepared to join us in strong attempt to pin French down to firm EDC timetable. We have following comment:

We believe it highly unlikely treaty debate can begin in Assembly before January because of (a) French insistence on some degree of Saar settlement, which presumably can not be sought before September German elections and which will at best take some time to reach, (b) strength of pressure for some specific exploration of Soviet intentions prior to ratification, and (c) forthcoming presidential elections [Page 1603]in December. There could of course be much longer delay. We fully agree as to importance of preventing indefinite procrastination. However, facts cited above plus importance of prior ratification by other governments make it doubtful we could obtain serious French commitment to begin debate before January.

On other hand, we doubt it would be wise to give French satisfaction of accepting at this time impossibility of action before January. It is not completely ruled out for instance that Assembly may be brought to consider treaty after presidential election, but still prior to Christmas recess. Therefore, it may be less desirable to obtain firm timetable commitment, which may not be kept, than to impress French with fact that time is running out and that we consider earliest possible action essential.

British willingness to join in attempt to pin French down is welcome new factor in view of widespread feeling here that United States alone is constantly pressing for ratification. Bidault pleaded before and during April Washington visit3 for patience from United States. Believe most helpful course would be for British and ourselves to make clear to Bidault that we have long been patient and naturally do not wish to push for debate before he thinks time ripe, if that time is reached within next few months, but that our patience is wearing thin, that developments in Germany and in Soviet strategy are dangerously shortening available time for tying Western Germany into West and that time for major decisions not merely by France, but also by United States and United Kingdom may be nearer than we realize. Occasion might also be taken to urge upon Bidault importance of French Government undertaking aggressive campaign of selling treaty to country well in advance of Assembly debate.

Achilles
  1. Repeated to London.
  2. Dated July 7, p. 1595.
  3. For a record of a United States-French discussion of EDC ratification at the end of March 1953, see telegram 4992 to Paris, Mar. 26, p. 781. Further documentation on the visit of Prime Minister Mayer and Foreign Minister Bidault to the United States is presented in volume vi .