Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 203
Memorandum by the Assistant
Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant) of a Luncheon Meeting
of the Foreign Ministers of the United States, the United
Kingdom, and France, Berlin, January 28, 19541
During the course of luncheon today at Bidault’s residence2 and in the process of stiffening Bidault’s position on the Five-Power Conference issue, the Secretary at one point told Bidault, in Eden’s presence, that all three of them should consider very carefully the ultimate consequences of weakening at this point on our hitherto agreed line. He said that he was genuinely concerned that if Bidault [Page 854] questioned Molotov with a view to ascertaining whether he had any specific proposal for negotiations which could cover Indo-China, thereby opening up this subject, Molotov would move into the gap. The end of this operation, the Secretary said, might well be a modified proposal from Molotov for a conference in a form which the United States could not accept, but which would be sufficiently seductive to the French to make it impossible for Bidault to refuse. This, he pointed out, would make the Berlin Conference a major victory for the Soviets and a rout for the West.
Later, in a conversation with Bidault alone, Bidault, who was in an obviously nervous and excited frame of mind, said that the Secretary must realize that he had very few cards in his hand to play. The Secretary replied that might be true but that one of them was U.S. support and that one he must not throw away. Bidault hastily assured the Secretary that that was the last thought in his mind. The Secretary then said that he more accurately should have said that it was a card which should not be thrown away by the French people because he knew very well what Mr. Bidault’s own beliefs and convictions were.