Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, 1953–61, Whitman file

Memorandum of Discussion at the 170th Meeting of the National Security Council, November 12, 1953

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Present at the 170th meeting of the Council were the President of the United States, presiding; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of Defense; the Acting Director, Foreign Operations Administration; [Page 1714]and the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. The Vice President was out of the country and so did not attend this meeting. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Acting Secretary of the Interior (for Item 1); the Secretary of Commerce (for Item 1); the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (for Items 2, 4 and 5); the Secretary of the Navy(for Item 1); Robert Murray and Louis Rothschild, of the Department of Commerce (for Item 1); Robert Finley, Office of Defense Mobilization (for Item 1); General Ridgway for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; The Assistant to the President; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; C. D. Jackson, Special Assistant to the President; the Acting White House Staff Secretary; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.

There follows a summary of the discussion at the meeting and the chief points taken.

[Here follows discussion of a national petroleum program, significant world developments affecting United States security, NSC 26, and the United States position with respect to the regulation, limitation, and balanced reduction of armed forces and armaments.]

5. Forthcoming Bermuda Conference

Mr. Cutler asked whether the Secretary of State would comment to the Council on the origin of the Bermuda Conference and the probable subjects for discussion at this meeting.

Secretary Dulles said that the idea had originated with Prime Minister Churchill, who was won over by Secretary Dulles’ arguments against a high-level conference with the Russians, but had suggested that in its place an informal meeting with the President and the French Premier be scheduled. There was no indication at this point what the Prime Minister specifically wanted to talk about, except ways and means of pushing ahead to the ratification of EDC. The British Embassy, likewise, had had no guidance from London as to what other matters were likely to be on the agenda. Nevertheless, Secretary Dulles thought it quite possible that in addition to EDC the Prime Minister would wish to talk about Germany, the Suez base, Iran, and possibly atomic energy matters. Secretary Dulles reminded the Council that the Prime Minister was very fond of meetings without any agenda, since they permitted him to spring surprises. Secretary Dulles would not be astonished, therefore, if Sir Winston revived the idea of the meeting with the Russians.

In response to a question from Mr. Cutler, Secretary Dulles stated that the situation in Indochina might likewise get onto the agenda at Bermuda. If the subject were raised by the French, Secretary Dulles proposed to restrict himself to re-emphasizing the very great concern [Page 1715]of the United States Government that France go ahead vigorously in carrying out the Navarre plan.1

The President indicated his intention of having a very small group accompany him and the Secretary of State to Bermuda, but also indicated his desire that the Secretaries of the Treasury and Defense and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission be prepared to come to Bermuda on short notice if their presence were needed. The President also indicated his intention of keeping the discussion with the British and French on the most general terms.

The National Security Council:

Discussed the subject in the light of an oral report by the Secretary of State as to items which might possibly be discussed at the Conference.

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Documentation on Indochina and the concern of the United States about the carrying out of the Navarre Plan is presented in volume xiii .