During the North Atlantic Council meeting at Paris in December 1952, Chancellor of the Exchequer Butler discussed with Secretary of the Treasury Snyder the possibility of a visit to Washington. No record of this conversation has been found in Department of State files, but it is referred to in telegram 4704 cited below. Following the receipt of telegram 3716, January 7 ( Document 372), in which this possibility was again raised, and the conversations between Prime Minister Churchill and Secretary of State-designate Dulles (see Document 373) during which the possibility of Butler and Eden visiting Washington for financial talks was discussed, Secretary Snyder transmitted a message to Butler (telegram 4704, January 15; 841.00/1–753) in which he stated that Treasury Secretary-designate Humphrey would welcome Treasury to Treasury talks in Washington. In a subsequent meeting with Ambassador Makins on January 26 Secretary Dulles suggested that the talks begin in the first week in March, thus allowing the new Administration to get its feet on the ground. (Memorandum of conversation, January 26; Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversations, lot 64 D 199) Three days later Secretary Dulles held two meetings to consider the problem further. At the first with Linder and Burgess it was decided that it would be very useful if the British could present on a confidential level the proposals which they wished to discuss in the ministerial talks. At the second meeting Ambassador Makins suggested that he would in the course of the following days give the United States a document outlining the Commonwealth proposals. (Telegram 5039 to London, January 30; 841.00/1–3053)
During the second week of February the British Embassy transmitted to the Department of State a 62-paragraph memorandum, dated February 10, entitled “A Collective Approach to Freer Trade and Currencies”, which was intended to provide a basis for collective action by the Commonwealth, Western Europe, and the United [Page 888]States to create conditions of freer trade and currencies. The memorandum stated further that the proposals put forward therein had been agreed during the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference in London at the end of 1952 and that the United Kingdom had been selected to explore them first with the United States.
The first objective of the memorandum was the convertibility of sterling and other currencies and the removal of restrictions on payments; the second objective was the removal of trade restrictions and discrimination in order to encourage world trade. Progress had to be made toward both these objectives or the plan would fail. Additionally conditions had to be created which would foster international investment and development of the resources of the free world. The final proposal was to utilize the International Monetary Fund, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to promote these ideas and provide a forum for the discussion of major economic policies. A copy of this memorandum is in file 411.41/2–1053.
The memorandum was subsequently circulated within the Department of State and its substance transmitted to President Eisenhower (see Dulles’ memorandum, infra). It became the basic topic for financial and economic talks with Butler and Eden which were held in Washington, March 4–7.
In preparation for the visit the Department of State drafted a series of 15 briefing memoranda for Secretary Dulles. These memoranda covered topics in Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and global planning. A set of these memoranda is in Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 139.
Foreign Secretary Eden and Chancellor of the Exchequer Butler arrived in Washington on March 4 and held their first meeting with United States officials the same day. The documentation that follows presents records of all the meetings held in Washington and such ancillary papers as are necessary to indicate the course of the meetings.