Memorandum of Conversation, by MacArthur


  • Possible Periodic Meetings of the Three Heads of Government

Following the luncheon which M. Bidault gave for the President today (M. Laniel being ill) the President remarked that even though there were no earth shaking decisions to be taken at Bermuda, he thought and had always thought that it was most desirable for the three countries to get together from time to time and have good talks. The President said that no matter how good an Ambassador might be, he felt that exchanges between the leading personalities of different countries by cable were not entirely satisfactory and that periodic meetings every three or four months were useful, since it enabled each country to have a greater understanding of the problems of the other country or countries which in turn was most important in preserving [Page 1822] unity. The President concluded by saying that if leaders met every three or four months, the press would not expect earth shaking developments but would understand these meetings for what they were, namely, to talk over common problems with a view to developing better understanding. This in turn would enable the three countries to move forward together in the solution of longer term problems with which we were faced.

M. Bidault and the French representatives picked this idea most enthusiastically. They indicated that a meeting at top level by the three countries every three or four months would seem highly desirable (this of course is in line with France’s great desire to continue its position as an equal member of the Big Three regardless of their entry into FDC, etc., and thereby be considered as an equal with the United States and the United Kingdom in matters of global import). Several members of the French Delegation suggested that this would be useful for the Communiqué.

The President indicated general approval of the idea but said that when such meetings could occur would, of course, depend on whether or not the people involved were able to absent themselves from their countries. The President said that simply as an idea, it might be useful if a meeting occurred on the territory of a country which was not a member of the Big Three, for example, the three might get together for a one day meeting at a place like Newfoundland. They could fly there, spend the day having a general talk and have lunch or dinner together and then return to their respective countries. In Newfoundland there were U.S. military air bases where they could be adequately taken care of and where they could meet without having the press descend on them.

M. Bidault smilingly said that if the President were talking about Newfoundland why not the Islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon which were just off the coast of Newfoundland. The President laughed and said that at any rate that was an idea. There was further brief conversation of a social nature and the President then said that since the Foreign Ministers had a meeting scheduled in about 15 minutes, he would withdraw so that M. Bidault could get his papers together and go on to the meeting with Secretary Dulles and Mr. Eden.