Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 185

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Counselor of the Department of State ( MacArthur )1

secret

Participants:

  • Secretary of State Dulles
  • Prime Minister Laniel
  • Mr. MacArthur

Secretary Dulles, accompanied by Mr. MacArthur, called on Prime Minister Laniel to say goodbye to him. The Prime Minister was still confined to his bed by doctor’s orders and received the Secretary and Mr. MacArthur in his bedroom. The Secretary said that he had come to say goodbye to M. Laniel and to tell him how sorry he was that his illness had prevented him from attending the meetings. At the same time the Secretary expressed relief that according to all reports, M. Laniel was well on the way to recovery. M. Laniel thanked the Secretary and said that, never having been ill in his life, he was extremely chagrined to be laid up during the important meetings at Bermuda.

The conversation then turned to the meetings and the Secretary commented that there had been a long discussion with respect to the EDC and he hoped that there was no change in the French Government’s determination to push EDC to a successful conclusion. M. Laniel said that he supported EDC but that he had great political difficulties in France with the Parliament. In particular, he felt it might have been a mistake to have precipitated the recent debate in the Assembly on the EDC since while the objective had been to get a vote in favor of the EDC, the final result had been confused and it was clear that at that time an EDC majority in the French Assembly did not exist. M. Laniel said he hoped that in due course a majority of the French Assembly would support the EDC.

Secretary Dulles said that he would like to speak very frankly to M. Laniel. He had always been a friend of France, having visited there as a boy with his father when he had bicycled throughout the country and later having studied at the Sorbonne. Since that time he had made numerous trips to France where he had many friends. Secretary Dulles then said that it was the strongest desire of the United States to see France’s role of leadership on the European continent and in world affairs maintained and increased. Leadership, however, required the facing up to responsibilities and realities. In connection with the EDC if France because of internal political difficulties could not face up to the situation and take positive action on it, it was doubtful that she could maintain a position of leadership. The Secretary emphasized that any country which wishes to play a great role must act when [Page 1844] necessity requires it so to do. The world would not stand still while France continued to postpone facing up to the decision on the EDC which involved the basic question of European unity. The Secretary said he felt he could speak this way because he felt he was a real friend of France. However, if France could not act when the situation required it, all the friendship in the world would not be able to support or sustain a position of leadership for France.

M. Laniel reiterated that the political situation in France was very, very difficult but that he would continue to do his best. He hoped that after the Presidential elections were over and a new French Government was formed that a pro-EDC majority in the French Assembly would be possible. The Secretary concluded by saying he did not wish to tire M. Laniel so that he would bid him goodbye. He wished him a very speedy recovery and expressed the hope that he might catch a glimpse of him while in Paris for the North Atlantic Council meeting.

  1. The meeting took place from 9:55 to 10:10 a.m., Dec. 8.