President Eisenhower to Prime Minister Churchill 1

top secret

Dear Winston : I am temporarily out of touch with Foster but I assume that within limits he could arrange his schedule to conform to whatever plans you and I might make.

Because of the negative character of the Soviet reply, there may be considerable value in a good talk between us and the French in order to survey the situation in which we now find ourselves. It would be necessary of course to avoid creating a false impression that our purpose in meeting is to issue another invitation to the Soviets. There is nothing to be gained by showing too much concern over their intransigence and bad deportment and I believe that instead of relating our meeting to any Soviet word or act, past or future, we should merely announce that we are meeting to discuss matters of common interest. I feel that the presence of the French is almost an essential because of EDC, Indochina, and NATO problems in general, in which both you and we have such a great stake. My only reservation about our meeting would be if it were some way seized upon as a pretext by opponents of EDC in France to delay ratification. This would be a tragedy for us all. Also, in view of the French presidential elections now scheduled for about mid-December, I do not know whether the French would find it possible to attend such a meeting in early December. Of course if Laniel could not come, Bidault might attend. I assume you, as head of the host government, would issue the invitation to the French and inquire whether they could attend such a meeting.

In the event the French accept, my calendar does not leave me much leeway in choice of dates. I could reach Bermuda on the morning of December 4 and stay through the 7th, returning here on the morning of the 8th. It is also possible that I myself could arrive on the morning of the 11th returning on the 15th but in this case, Foster would be unable to come with me as the North Atlantic Council Ministers meet in Paris on December 14–16 and Foster must leave Washington not later than December 12. I give you these possibilities only tentatively because I have yet to discuss it with Foster.

Foster should be back here by Monday morning, by which time you may be able to inform me as to the suitability of the periods I suggest [Page 1713]before making any approach to the French. I think then we would have to agree quickly as to timing of the announcement so that danger of leaks can be eliminated.2

With warm regards,

As ever,

  1. Transmitted to London in telegram 2481, eyes only for Ambassador Aldrich.
  2. Following further exchanges of communications between Washington and London and between London and Paris, James Hagerty, Presidential Press Secretary, announced on Nov. 10 that the meeting at Bermuda would be held Dec. 4–8, to discuss various matters of concern to the three powers. (Press release, Nov. 10, CFM files, lot M 88, box 166, “Big Three Bermuda”) Documentation on the exchanges between the three governments is in file 396.1/11–653 through 11–1053.