396.1 LO/10–1853: Telegram

No. 302
The United States Delegation at the Tripartite Foreign Ministers Conference to the Department of State1

Secto 27. Secretary met privately with Bidault at French Embassy for about an hour afternoon October 16 with MacArthur, Bowie, Margerie present. Following is summary:

Bidault said his two principal concerns are Indochina and EDC.

[Page 702]

Re Indochina, Reynaud, Pleven, Faure, and Martineau-Deplat were very difficult in French cabinet about five-power meeting proposed by Soviets. Differences within cabinet were reflected in French press which has not helped prestige of government. Bidault said he will continue to hold line in cabinet re Indochina but he has problem because two elements within cabinet who wish to negotiate. (This conversation took place before Bidault received word of action by Vietnam Congress reported in Secto 12).2

Re EDC position of French Government is set forth in Laniel’s reply to President Eisenhower’s letter.3 Bidault said it essential for French Assembly to take positive stand on both EPC and EDC before The Hague meeting now tentatively scheduled for late November. He said that if French Assembly does not give some form of preliminary approval to EPC and EDC he would not go to The Hague and would not remain as Foreign Minister. He outlined parliamentary steps as follows: October 27, debate in Council of Republic on EDC, (related to US aid legislation which envisages giving assistance to EDC); November 12–13, hearings before Foreign Affairs Commission of Assembly and Council of Republic; followed by a debate in Assembly about November 20 when “Assembly must give preliminary approval to EDC and EPC”.

On basis his present estimates, he believed it would be possible to obtain slim Assembly approval of EDC and EPC but mentioned great difficulties with Socialist and Gaullists.

Secretary said difficult to exaggerate our anxiety over coming weeks. US believes future of Europe and indeed Western civilization depends upon whether we grasp opportunity to integrate Germany with West. US has long hoped for European unity, and through Marshall Plan and military aid has provided about $30 billion. Furthermore, our strategic planning has been based on development real strength in Europe through unification. In past there have been disappointments but now point has been reached where unless Europe moves forward with EDC we will be forced against our will to explore new alternatives which will be presented to us by changed situation in Europe resulting from failure of EDC. It would be tragic if great opportunities now present escaped us and Secretary sure Bidault felt same way.

Secretary then mentioned apprehension over reports as to French attitude re EPC which seemed one of keys to acceptance of EDC, and made reference to elements in French Foreign Office and others who are opposed to it. Bidault appeared somewhat evasive. [Page 703] He admitted there was opposition in Foreign Office and elsewhere and said French Government’s instructions to Rome had been too “narrowly” interpreted at beginning Rome conference.4 However, French Government policy did support political community with supra-national attributes. Bidault reiterated French Assembly must discuss EPC and EDC before The Hague and said present rapporteurs in Assembly committees would have to be replaced, as they were hostile to EDC. He did not indicate how replacement would come about but implied it would be related to parliamentary hearings.

Bidault said agreement on Saar essential prerequisite to EDC ratification. Adenauer sincere and full of good intentions but latter has his own problem with rightist and other elements in coalition working against Saar settlement acceptable to France.

Secretary then said we had disquieting reports re extent French reforms in North Africa, and he hoped French would push forward vigorously with reforms, which essential to stability and progress.

Bidault said situation in North Africa complicated but staunchly defended French reform program, mentioning labor law reforms and increased participation in North African Assemblies. Universal suffrage not yet possible but France determined to push ahead with greater native participation in government. Bidault had report that US would vote for Bolivian resolution re North Africa and expressed unhappiness, saying “voting for a comparatively mild resolution creates more difficulties than for an exaggerated resolution”. He explained that latter probably would not pass or get much real support outside Arab-Asian bloc. Furthermore, France does not recognize United Nations competence to intervene in internal affairs in North Africa.

In conclusion, Bidault again expressed deep gratitude for United States assistance in Indochina and said that next six weeks are going to be “terrible for me”, but he was determined to push ahead with EDC and Indochina. He would not hazard when final French ratification might occur but reiterated that French Assembly must give some form of preliminary approval to EPC and EDC before The Hague meeting late November.

  1. Repeated to Paris.
  2. Infra.
  3. For text of Eisenhower’s letter and Laniel’s response, see vol. v, Part 1, pp. 812 and 820.
  4. The Deputy Foreign Ministers of the signatories to the EDC Treaty met in Rome Sept. 22–Oct. 9, 1953.