396.1/10–1653: Telegram

No. 294
The Secretary of State to the President
top secret priority

Dulte 1. Eyes only for the President from the Secretary (information Acting Secretary). Aldrich and I dined last night with Churchill, Eden and Salisbury.1 Dinner and after-dinner conversation almost wholly on possible Soviet meeting. I explained your position, based on responsibilities as head of state, and also fear lest such meeting should prejudice EDC. Winston made usual uncomplimentary references EDC with grudging acquiescence in importance early decision one way or another. I said once EDC ratified and western position thus solidified there would be a foundation for talks now lacking, and possibility of Soviet maneuvering against west would be greatly diminished. Under these circumstances you might possibly consider brief appearance at some four/power meeting, particularly if groundwork laid by four Foreign Ministers. I said if Churchill would defer seeking four-power meeting until after EDC ratified I would ask you give new consideration to matter along above lines.

At this point Winston switched to project of going alone to see Malenkov, perhaps with Eden, saying he recognized your position as chief of state was different from his. I said that obviously this was a decision he was wholly free to make, but I expressed concern lest it create impression that Britain now assuming role of middleman between US and Soviet Union, which I felt would seriously prejudice our desire to work in close partnership with British in areas of mutual concern. I felt that this unity should be preserved. Only at this point did Churchill show any sign of irritation saying that he thought we could trust him not to be entrapped at Moscow, and he recalled at December meeting in New York that you had said that he was of course free to go alone.2 I said that I had no [Page 692] doubt that that was still your view and of course we would not attempt to interfere with his decision but I merely felt obligated to point out that since he could hardly go as our representative, US public opinion would almost inevitably cast him in the role of middleman and could have undesirable effect on relations elsewhere. Decision was, of course, his.

Except for this passage meeting throughout most cordial.

Churchill’s mental and physical condition seemed almost normal. Eden and Salisbury were significantly silent throughout and there is every indication that they do not share Churchill’s ideas regarding Russian meeting. Indeed Eden told Aldrich and me on drive from airport that he doubted wisdom although he would, of course, loyally support his chief. Salisbury privately told Aldrich he felt there was much merit in my position.

  1. Secretary Dulles, accompanied, inter alia, by O’Connor, MacArthur, Bowie, Kidd, and Knight, had arrived in London at 5:15 p.m. Oct. 15.
  2. Prime Minister Churchill met with President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles at New York at the beginning of January 1953.