No. 75
The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Lovett)1


My Dear Mr. Secretary: I refer to the paper entitled, “Recommended United States Position with Respect to the Establishment of a Middle East Command Organization” which was prepared by a [Page 235]State–Defense Working Group and submitted jointly to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense in a memorandum dated April 15, 1952.2 Part III of this paper recommended a series of steps, beginning with a Seven-Power meeting in London, intended to effect the formal establishment of the MECO and the opening of Command headquarters. Part IV recommended a United States position with respect to the form and character of the proposed organization which was intended to serve as guidance to United States representatives in negotiations with the representatives of the other sponsoring powers looking to the establishment of the organization.3 This paper is currently under consideration in the Department of State.

Recent developments have required this Department to take a position in advance of final action on the paper, with respect to the points covered in Part III. As the Defense Department is aware, on April 29 the British Embassy handed this Department a memorandum suggesting that the proposed Seven-Power meeting on MECO should be postponed until the Anglo-Egyptian situation becomes clearer, and suggesting the desirability of inviting Egypt and Iraq to such a meeting when held.4 After consulting the Defense Department informally and seeking the views of our missions in the Near East and Turkey, the Department of State on May 20 made the attached statement on the United Kingdom memorandum to officers of the British Embassy.5 The principal points of this memorandum may be summarized as follows:

It would be desirable to postpone the Seven-Power meeting pending a clarification of the Anglo-Egyptian situation.
The Arab States should be consulted while MECO is in the planning stage.
It would be unwise to invite Egypt and Iraq alone of all the Arab States to attend a meeting charged with the task of drafting a form of organization for MECO.
Before consulting the Arab States, it is essential to coordinate the views of the Seven-Powers with respect to the general form and character of the organization and the essential elements which could not be compromised even for Arab cooperation.
It might be desirable to effect this coordination through diplomatic channels rather than by means of a meeting. After this step had been completed, the Arab States should be consulted at approximately the same time and on the same basis. It could then be determined how best to proceed with the establishment of the definitive form of the organization.
Israel should be informed of developments at the same time the Arab States are approached.
The Department of State is prepared at an early date to discuss with the British Embassy, in great confidence, current British thinking concerning the form and character of the MECO, as a preliminary to possible wider discussions among all the sponsoring powers.

The Department of State is concerned about the problem of securing Arab cooperation with MECO, and considers that the procedures outlined above are better adapted to this objective than those recommended by the Working Group. It is hoped that they will make it possible to develop a Seven-Power position on MECO without causing disquiet in the Arab States, and at the same time will leave us considerable latitude in determining the manner and timing of approaches to the Arab States. This Department feels that this latter problem should receive further careful study, which can proceed concurrently with the proposed diplomatic discussions concerning the form and character of the organization. There are various political factors which may affect the timing and manner of further moves directed toward the establishment of MECO, and this Department will continue to keep the situation under review.

The Department accordingly suggests that the review of the Working Group paper be limited to the recommended position set forth in Part IV, since a joint State–Defense position on the points covered in this part will be sufficient for purposes of the proposed discussions with the British. The Department hopes that it will be possible to establish such a joint position by the time the British are ready to present their views and that the Department of Defense will be prepared to designate a representative to participate in the discussions.

Sincerely yours,

For the Secretary of State:

H. Freeman Matthews
Deputy Under Secretary
  1. This letter was attached to a memorandum from Berry to Matthews, dated May 23, not printed. The memorandum suggested that, since the statement of the Department of State to the British on May 20 had the effect of cancelling part of a paper formally under consideration by the Department of Defense, it would be desirable to give Defense officials notice of the action. It also stated that it would be desirable to give Defense notice of the approaching discussions with the British, and the expectation that Defense representatives would participate in them. (780.5/5–2852)
  2. Not printed. A copy of the Apr. 15 memorandum was attached to the Berry memorandum of May 23. (780.5/5–2852) A summary of the report is in the memorandum of Apr. 16 by Foster, Document 69. A copy of the complete report is in the PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “Near and Middle East, 1952–3”. For a Department of State discussion of the paper, see the memorandum of conversation by Daspit, Document 70.
  3. Not printed. Part III, entitled “Recommended Schedule for Establishment of MECO,” recommended an early date for the Seven-Power meeting. Part IV was entitled “Recommended US Position for Initial Seven-Power Meeting on MECO.” It recommended, in part, that the higher direction for the Middle East Command should come from an infrequently meeting Middle East Military Committee, on which all sponsoring and participating states would be represented at the Chiefs of Staff level; but specific policy guidance would be furnished by a subcommittee of that body, which would function continuously as an executive agent. It also recommended that, on some matters, the views of the British should be given special consideration “in view of their general responsibilities in the Middle East and the primacy of their role in MECO as evidenced by the US intention to support the designation of a British national as SACME.” (PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “Near and Middle East, 1952–3”)
  4. For a memorandum of the Apr. 29 conversation with the British, see Document 72.
  5. Not printed. (780.5/5–2852)