PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “CFM London, Oct 1953”

No. 293
Memorandum of Conversation, Prepared in the Department of State 1
top secret
  • Participants: President Eisenhower
  • Secretary Dulles
  • Douglas MacArthur II
  • Robert R. Bowie
[Page 689]

The Secretary said that before leaving for the London meeting he wanted to discuss the following points which were certain to arise:

1. Four-power talks among chiefs of government

The Secretary pointed out that Mr. Churchill was almost certain to raise again the question of the four-power talks among the chiefs of government.2 He said he had just come from a meeting with a small group of Republican and Democratic members of the Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs Committees which had discussed this question.3 They were unanimous in thinking that the President should not attend any meeting of the sort visualized by Churchill.

The Secretary said he continued to feel that such a discussion at this time would not be productive and might tend to delay further progress toward EDC, especially in France. If the President approved, he therefore intended strongly to oppose a move toward such discussion at this time.

The President said he would fully support this position. He pointed out that the Secretary would be walking a tightrope in maintaining this position without creating the impression that the US was blocking a useful step. He said he was definitely not prepared to attend any meeting away from Washington for any substantial length of time. He pointed out that his position as both Chief of State and Chief of Government was quite different from that of the other three, and because of our constitutional requirements the wheels of government were slowed down when the President was absent. He said the issues and chances for any solutions should first be explored at a meeting with the Foreign Ministers or through diplomatic channels. If these reveal a real possibility for specific agreements, then the President would be willing to consider a brief meeting to put a seal on the solution of concrete issues.

The President said that if the Press asked him about Churchill’s proposal, he would indicate a negative attitude but would avoid a definite answer by saying that this question might well be discussed at the London meeting which Secretary Dulles is attending.

2. Trieste

The Secretary reported on his meeting with the Yugoslav Foreign Minister, and the statement made by the Foreign Minister [Page 690] that the Yugoslavs would enter Zone A, despite the presence of US and British forces, if any Italian soldiers entered the Zone.4

The President expressed his surprise at the Yugoslav attitude, and suggested that it might be desirable at some point to move some of the 6th Fleet into the Adriatic area to indicate our readiness to deal with such a situation. (This was subsequently raised in a State–JCS meeting and the JCS informed us it would take from 36 to 48 hours to move important elements of the 6th Fleet into the upper Adriatic.)

The Secretary said that the Italian reaction had been almost too favorable and had doubtless complicated the situation. He said we would continue our efforts to obtain the acquiescence of Tito in a de facto solution.

3. Security Guarantees

The Secretary said he was doubtful about the wisdom of tendering any non-aggression pacts or similar guarantees to the Soviets at least until EDC had been ratified. It now appears that there is a good chance that the EDC would be approved by the French Parliament if it could be forced to a vote. It now looks as if this would take place in early January.

The Secretary called attention to telegram 1452 from Paris5 which set out a clear and persuasive analysis along the line approved by Bidault. As long as EDC was not a reality, the Soviet policy was certain to be directed mainly at preventing its approval. The Soviets were not likely to consider seriously settling any European issues until EDC had become an accomplished fact and was no longer an issue for debate. The President agreed with this analysis.

4. Indochina

The Secretary referred to the French reports as to possible Chinese air support with jet planes to the Vietminh. Our intelligence is doubtful about this, but the possibility could not be ruled out.

The President felt that it might be desirable to make available to the French some of our F–86 planes in case the Chinese should provide such support. This might be a good way to boost the French morale in Indochina and might not be a serious burden on us since we might have on hand some of these planes in view of the Korean armistice and they would soon be obsolete. He did not know whether the French in Indochina had the capability of receiving and operating [Page 691] jets or what our own situation is with respect to supplying them, but thought this might be looked into informally.

The President was told that JCSwas advised of this report and was considering what action the US should take if the contingency occurred.

  1. Drafted by Bowie and MacArthur.
  2. Regarding Churchill’s proposal, see footnote 3, Document 186.
  3. A memorandum of Dulles’ conversation with Senators Wiley, Ferguson, Green, and Sparkman and Representatives Vorys, Judd, Burleson, and Zablocki is in file 110.11 DU/10–1453.
  4. On Oct. 8 the United States and the United Kingdom had announced that they proposed to remove their troops from Zone A.
  5. Telegram 1452 transmitted the substance of the French position on security guarantees in Europe. (640.611/10–1353)