On May 20, Prime Minister Mayer, who faced a vote of confidence in the French National Assembly on May 21, sent to President Eisenhower through the United States Embassy in Paris a request for approval of a statement to the Assembly which would include, inter alia, the proposal for a high level meeting of the three Western powers. Officers from the Department of State, which opposed the suggestion for such a meeting on the grounds that it was undesirable to commit the United States while the Korean situation hung in the balance and before the Austrian Treaty discussions began, discussed Mayer’s request with President Eisenhower at 6 p.m. on May 20. The President, however, strongly favored the meeting and immediately telephoned Prime Minister Churchill. As a result of their telephone conversation, the President made the decision to hold the meeting. The next day the three governments announced that they had agreed to hold a high [Page 1711]level tripartite meeting at a time convenient to all of them. On the same day following this announcement, however, Mayer was defeated on the vote of confidence and France remained without a government for a month. The meeting was then scheduled for June 29, but on June 26, the British announced that Churchill’s physician had advised him to lighten his duties, thus delaying indefinitely the meeting at Bermuda. On June 28, arrangements were made to have the Foreign Ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France instead of their chiefs meet at Washington starting July 10.
Copies of Mayer’s request, transmitted in telegram 6019 from Paris, and telegram 2911, May 20 (10:43 p.m.), from the Department of State to Secretary Dulles, who was in New Delhi, relating the ensuing developments, are in file 396.1/5–2053. Additional documentation relating to the preparations for the abortive meeting at Bermuda is in file 396.1; the CFM files, lot M 88, box 166 and the Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 187. For the text of the tripartite announcement on May 21, see Department of State Bulletin, June 1, 1953, page 778; for documentation on the Foreign Ministers meetings at Washington, see pages 1582 ff.; for President Eisenhower’s account of these events, see Eisenhower, Mandate for Change, page 242.