780.5/6–2752: Telegram

No. 78
The Secretary of State to the Department of State1

top secret

Secto 19. At third bilateral conversation with UK held June 26 on Middle East Defense Organization, Indochina and Korea, Eden, Selwyn Lloyd, Strang, Dixon, Makins, Bowker and Hood were present for British and Secretary, Gifford, Jessup, Nash, Perkins, Nitze, Battle, Kirkpatrick and Palmer for US.

A. MEDOEden said he thought we were pretty much agreed on general lines of MEDO but there remained question of how to set it up. UK had thought until recently that Arabs shld be invited soon to join organization. British ME Chiefs of Mission at recent mtg, however, did not believe Arabs wld reply favorably to invitation. They thought therefore there might be something to be said for seven powers setting up organization. If any of Arabs then wanted to come in, they wld be welcomed. Chiefs of Mission felt thing to avoid was confronting Arabs with invitation, which wld necessitate their making decision. This wld probably result in refusal and make later acceptance more difficult.

Secretary said he did not think we were far apart on MEDO. He thought best procedure was to try work out remaining differences between UK and US, fol which French, Turks and Dominions wld be approached. When lines agreed among these seven, we cld then take quiet soundings from Arab states to see how they stand. If they are not willing to join now, we might then go ahead and set up organization. He agreed we shld not issue formal invitation now. Re MEDO itself, US has in mind looser organization than UK paper envisages.2 Secretary then outlined our position re military [Page 250]reps comite, planning group with British chairman and ad hoc group to coordinate views US, UK, France and Turkey and provide liaison with NATO.

SACME shld not be designated until capabilities developed. At that time whole structure might be changed and chairman planning group might become SACME designate.

Dixon asked whether we felt organization shld be set up if results soundings Arab states negative. British Chiefs of Mission had thought Arabs might be more attracted if they saw going concern. Secretary said he felt it depended on nature Arab reply. If Arabs seem merely to be shy it might be best to go ahead. If on other hand they show themselves to be hostile, we might wish reconsider.

Dixon asked how we envisaged planning group operating and whether we intended that chairman PG wld appear to be head of MEDO. Secretary replied he thought it was wiser to have MRC as head of organization. Real work wld be done however by small PG headed by British. It wld be up to British to decide whom they wished to designate as chairman. Chairman wld set up his various sections and recommendations which were worked out wld be placed before MRC.

Dixon said British had thought there was advantage in progressing further at this time toward more formal command structure. They thought this wld give greater appearance of strength to Arab states and might therefore be more attractive to them.

Secretary indicated this was debatable point. We thought there was probably more prospect of attracting Arabs if organizational structure not frozen. Nitze added we felt it desirable maintain flexibility. He stressed importance we attached to getting Arabs into organization. If we are to look toward a forward defense of area, we need Arab cooperation. He thought our whole approach to organizational problem shld be such as to maximize prospects getting Arabs in at beginning and encourage them to think they were participating in erection of organization rather than giving impression they being faced with fait accompli.

Eden said he agreed we shld be flexible when we approached Arabs.

British also raised question standing group. They thought we shld look ahead now to wartime eventuality of NATO SG becoming overall direction agency. There is, moreover, problem of French who have very strong views this question. There may be difficulty in getting them into MEDO at all unless we yield this point.

Secretary pointed out problem presented by Turks. Without Turkish participation MEDO, latter wld have no firm foundation. Turks willing under certain conditions contribute six divisions, which is more substantial contribution than anything French can [Page 251]give. He thought we cld achieve necessary coordination among four powers and liaison with NATO through ad hoc arrangements. If war came, then changes might be necessary. Nitze pointed out views JCS on SG question, particularly possibility creating precedent which wld encourage others such as Canadians to press for participation in higher direction.

Eden indicated he thought we were in substantial agreement on most points. He suggested further conversations by staff to see if agreed paper cld be worked out. Secretary agreed and it was decided that Nitze and Nash shld carry conversations further with Dixon and Bowker.3 Agreed paper wld be ad referendum US and UK Govts. It was also decided discuss MEDO with French in tomorrow’s tripartite.

For Far East discussion Scott joined British group and Ringwalt US group.

[Here follows discussion on Indochina (see volume XIII, Part 1, page 210) and Korea.]

  1. Secretary Acheson was in London June 23–28, on the first leg of a trip to Berlin, Vienna, Dakar, and Rio de Janeiro. He received an honorary degree from Oxford on June 25 and, with his principal advisers, held a number of discussions on various topics with British officials on the other days of his stay. Memoranda of the conversations in London are in the Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 111. For additional information on his trip, see vol. v, Part 2, p. 1544.

    This telegram was repeated to Pusan, Saigon, Paris, and Tokyo.

  2. See telegram 6830 to London, June 21, supra.
  3. Telegram Secto 18, June 26, not printed, reported on the staff meeting and informed the Department of State that the paper would be reorganized according to Nitze’s suggestions. (780.5/6–2652)