No. 319
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Elbrick)

Subject: Tripartite Security Declaration

  • Participants: The Secretary
  • Ambassador Bonnet of France
  • Mr. Livingston T. Merchant, Assistant Secretary, EUR
  • Mr. C. Burke Elbrick, Deputy Assistant Secretary, EUR
[Page 732]

Ambassador Bonnet said he had been instructed to see the Secretary to present the French Government’s view on the tripartite security declaration now being negotiated in Paris. He said his government was concerned over the lack of agreement on the operative part of this declaration as reflected in the differences between the latest French and US drafts. (The UK representative in Paris has stated that while he likes the US formulation of the problem, the UK could “live with” the new language suggested by the French.) The French draft, in translation, reads as follows: “They will regard any recourse to force in violation of the undertakings noted above as a threat to their own security. Any government having recourse to force in violation of its undertakings under the EDC treaty will be immediately deprived by the three governments of any form of military support and aid; and they will regard themselves, to the extent that they consider necessary to this end, as released from their commitments to that government. Finally, they will act in accordance with Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty with a view to taking any other measures which they may deem appropriate.”1

The US draft reads: “They will regard any recourse to force in violation of the undertakings noted above as a threat to the integrity and unity of the EDC, and consequently to their own security. They will therefore act in accordance with Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty with respect to withholding support from the government concerned; and, to the extent that they consider necessary to this end, will regard themselves as (automatically) released from their commitments to it.”2

Ambassador Bonnet said that the French Government feels that our draft is too weak and does not offer assurances it feels are required in order to demonstrate the peaceful intentions of the western powers. He said that Chancellor Adenauer had already agreed with the substance of the French proposal and he felt that Adenauer would not look with favor upon any change such as that suggested by the US. Moreover, the US version would offer ammunition to the opponents of the EDC in France.

The Secretary pointed out the constitutional difficulties which confront the US in this matter and indicated that a declaration along the lines of the French version might be regarded as a modification [Page 733] or extension of our treaty obligations. The Secretary was then obliged to leave for the White House. After some further discussion, Mr. Merchant informed the Ambassador that yesterday we had instructed our delegation in Paris that we could not agree to accept the French text of the declaration and had suggested that this matter be referred to the Foreign Ministers.3 Mr. Merchant believed that the Secretary would wish to study this matter and we would probably want to get in touch with the Ambassador again in the next few days.

In the discussion with the Ambassador, the following points were made in support of the US position:

—Acceptance of the French version might extend our treaty commitments and thus require Senate approval.
—It could be maintained, if the French version were accepted, that the three governments were prejudging the consultations envisaged in Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty referred to in the Tripartite Declaration of May 27, 1952.
—The French version would appear to give to the USSR greater assurances than the NATO members have given each other in the North Atlantic Treaty.4

  1. This draft had been introduced by the French Delegation at the tripartite session on Dec. 18. During this meeting the British had stated that they could live with this draft although they liked the U.S. draft for paragraph 2 better. (Macto 24 from Paris, Dec. 18, 396.1 PA/12–1353)
  2. According to Macto 24 Elbrick and Thurston held a telephone conversation on Dec. 18 and agreed to minor changes in the U.S. draft. No record of this telephone conversation has been found in Department of State files.
  3. This was done in Tomac 15 to Paris, Dec. 18. (396.1 PA/12–1853)
  4. At the tripartite meeting on Dec. 19 the U.S. Delegation maintained its position as did the French. The parties remained in disagreement when the working group completed its meetings on Dec. 21. (Macto 29 from Paris, Dec. 19, 396.1 PA/12–1953) A copy of the paper on security in Europe with the unagreed draft paragraph 2 is in CFM files, lot M 88, box 166, “Tripartite Meeting—Paris” and Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 178.