No. 318
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Webb)1
top secret

Meeting With the President, Monday, December 10, 1951

I assume that Mr. Matthews will prepare notes on the meeting between the President, the JCS, the Service Secretaries, and the State Department today.2 If he wishes me to dictate any part of this I will be glad to do so.


After the meeting in the Cabinet Room, the President asked me to go into his office and said he would like to talk with me for a few minutes at that time rather than to have the regular 12:30 appointment. The President first mentioned the forthcoming Churchill visit and expressed a desire that steps be taken to get together all of the material which we would wish to bring up with Mr. Churchill and his advisers. I told him that we were already working on the agenda we would wish to propose to him and that we [Page 703] were having meetings with the representatives of the other Departments, including Mr. Elsey, from Mr. Harriman’s office.

The President expressed a strong desire to obtain agreement from Mr. Churchill, if possible, that he and the U.K. would go all out for us in Asia rather than follow the policy of dragging their feet as in the past. Although he did not say so, I gathered that he felt the events of the recent past justify our policy and indicate the lack of wisdom of the British policy. In any event, he thinks they should strongly support the things we feel we have to do in that part of the world.

The second point mentioned by the President was a desire to get Mr. Churchill to agree to cooperate fully and completely with Secretary Acheson in the European defense program and to do all possible to push the French into action.

I advised the President that we were concerned that Mr. Churchill might attempt to conduct the negotiations on the same kind of personal basis that he was able to employ with President Roosevelt. The President stated, just as he has previously stated, that this was not his desire; that he wished his advisers present; that he wished an agenda made up for the meetings; and spoke of the way the Potsdam meetings were conducted as a desirable way to proceed. He asked me if Mr. Churchill had given us an indication of what he wished to talk about and I told him we had very little that we considered of value up to this time but had asked our Ambassador in London to take up with Mr. Eden the implications of the probability that the President might not wish to conduct the meetings as informally as Mr. Churchill seems to desire.
James E. Webb
  1. Copies of this memorandum were sent to Bonbright, Matthews, Allison, and Knight on Dec. 11.
  2. No record of this meeting has been found in Department of State files.