No. 632
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France1


4460. Re paragraph 13 your telegram 4558,2 we have received some indications that French Foreign Office and perhaps Bidault himself may have distorted somewhat character of Saar discussion which took place when he and Mayer met with Secretary Stassen during recent trip.3 While Bidault did talk at some length about the Saar and about a Saar settlement as a precondition to EDC ratification, no details were mentioned and Secretary was careful not to commit himself. However we have heard informally that in French Foreign Office reports of these talks to its missions abroad Saar subject was prominently mentioned (in itself hardly justified in view of nature of exchange on subject), and one unofficial but usually well informed French source told us Secretary and Bidault had been reported in agreement on subject. Consequently we do not exclude possibility that French Government and more particularly Bidault may seek to interpret the fact that the Secretary did not specifically challenge Bidault as approval for any type of Saar agreement which he may wish to put forth as condition precedent to ratification.

We do not think that a detailed Franco-German agreement on Saar can possibly be reached in reasonably foreseeable future and if such were made a precondition to EDC ratification latter would therefore be indefinitely delayed. Reasons for this are many and obvious including inter alia pre-election atmosphere developing in Germany, obvious gulf between French and German positions re retention French economic position in Saar, and extreme practical difficulty of settling on European basis thorniest specific Franco-German problem prior to development of European framework itself. At same time it seems to us that broad agreement in principle on basis of “Europeanization of Saar” might be achieved so as to meet exigencies of German Government and at same time broad commitment made by Mayer at time of his investiture.

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Please avail yourself of first opportunity to talk along above lines especially if French bring up subject and in particular should they allege they have obtained anything like free hand from Secretary. We are gratified to note British making similar move (London’s 4447 repeated Paris 1144 Bonn 8104), and in last few days both Dutch and Italian Embassies have expressed to us their concern re danger of French Government taking public position aimed at making Saar settlement condition for ratification.

  1. Source: Drafted by Knight and Morris on Feb. 16 and cleared by Bonbright and MacArthur. Repeated to London, Bonn, and Strasbourg.
  2. Telegram 4558 reported on the problems that needed resolution before EDC ratification could be accomplished. Paragraph 13 noted that it was still unclear whether the new French Government intended to make a full Franco-German agreement on the Saar a precondition to ratification. (740.5/2–1353)
  3. Dulles and Stassen traveled to Europe at the end of January and beginning of February 1953.
  4. Telegram 4447 reported that Eden intended to urge Mayer and Bidault not to let the Saar settlement become a condition for ratification of the EDC. (762.022/2–1153)