790.5/4–3054: Telegram

DullesEden Meeting, Geneva, April 30, 12:15 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State

top secret

Dulte 33. Repeated information London 99. Eyes only for Acting Secretary. For President from Secretary. Eyes only Ambassador. Following is memorandum of conversation I had alone with Eden at his villa in Geneva at 12:15 p.m. on April 30:

I said to Mr. Eden that I was greatly disturbed over the present position and its bearing upon the cooperation of our two countries. We had, I thought, agreed to sit down with other directly interested countries to try to work out a common defense for the Southeast Asia area,1 but now the British were unwilling to go ahead with the agreement which Eden and I had reached at London. On top of that was the fact that in the face of the vicious attacks by Molotov, Chou En-lai and Nam Il on the United States for what it had done in Korea, there was not a single Western European power which was prepared to get up and say a word in defense of the United Nations or United States position.2 The only speakers on the non-Communist side had been South Korea, Colombia, the United States and Australia, and no one else was inscribed to speak.

[Page 166]

I said it was particularly galling to the United States to have to accept this attack on it as being an “imperialist” power. I said that the United States was eager to beat the Communists at their own game and to sponsor nationalism in the independent colonial areas, which was in accordance with our historic tradition, but that we were restrained from doing so by a desire to cooperate with Britain and France in Asia, in North Africa and in the Near and Middle East. This, however, did not seem to be paying any dividends because when the chips were down there was no cohesion between us. Here at Geneva we were presenting a pathetic spectacle of drifting without any agreed policy or purpose. The United States had presented a program which, after it had been apparently accepted, had been repudiated and there was no alternative offered.

I said as far as the Korean problem was concerned, we were being forced by our Western Allies to abandon our original position of backing the United Nations resolutions so that Western leaders could show how generous they were at South Korea’s expense. I thought, however, that it was rather pathetic that we had to make our concessions to our Allies before even starting to negotiate with the Communists, where the concessions might have some negotiating value. If the effort to develop a united position with reference to Southeast Asia collapsed, we would be faced by the problem of going it alone. This would probably mean increasing the close relations with Syngman Rhee and Chiang Kai-shek, who, whatever their defects, were at least willing to stand strong against the Communists. I mentioned that there was considerable pressure for the United States to complete a mutual security treaty covering Formosa. This had been deferred and I felt that its negotiation at the time of the Geneva Conference and after my proposal for a united defense of Southeast Asia might be embarrassing. However, if there was to be no united defense for Southeast Asia and no agreed program for Geneva, then we would have to consider who there was upon whom we could depend.

I emphasized that despite what I gathered the British might have inferred from Radford’s talks3 the United States was not seeking either war with China or a large-scale intervention in Indochina. In fact, these were the two things we were seeking to avoid and thought could be avoided if we had a show of common strength.

I greatly feared that if I return to Washington under present conditions and had to meet with the Congressional committees and give explanations as to what had happened, the consequences would be disastrous for the close United Kingdom–United States relations which we wanted to maintain.

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Mr. Eden then handed me the memorandum,4 a copy of which is annexed. He said that they had been working very hard to prevent the Colombo Conference from taking a strong anti-Western position, particularly in relation to Indochina, and he felt that they had been quite successful.

I referred to the paragraph in the United Kingdom memorandum calling for immediate and secret joint examination between the United States and the United Kingdom. I said that this might be useful, but certainly it would not be useful if that was all there was, because we had already invited other countries, such as Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand to share in creating a Southeast Asian defense; and the two first had definitely agreed and the two latter were interested. I also said I was confident we could not now rebuff them without serious consequences for the future. They would have to be brought in on some discussions, although probably not those of the intimate nature which were customary between the United States and the United Kingdom. I referred to the fact that the North Atlantic Treaty had developed progressively, the first conception being the Brussels Pact, then the addition of the United States and Canada, then the addition of Scandinavian countries, then the addition of Portugal and Italy, and most recently the addition of Greece and Turkey.5 I said that surely any Southeast Asian arrangement would have to include at least Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the United States, the United Kingdom and France, and the Associated States; and I did not see why we could not get started with that nucleus and let it develop as seemed natural. Mr. Eden made no reply.

Mr. Eden then said that he felt that the Western powers had not participated in the general debate because they did not want to get tied to the South Korean election formula. I said that the issues in the general debate far transcended this rather minor technical point—that the burden of the speeches of Molotov and Chou En-lai had been that Asia was for the Asians, and that all Western influence should be eliminated, particularly that of the United States. Also, they had viciously attacked the United Nations, and made the most grotesque falsifications of history. Surely, I said, that presented issues to which the Western powers could address themselves if they believed in the United Nations and believed that the principle of solidarity extended beyond Europe. Mr. Eden said he would give thought to the possibility of his making some speech.

We then discussed the details of the Korean matter. I said I was not hopeless of the possibility of an agreement, because we had an asset to [Page 168] use that we had not had in Berlin. At Berlin we could not pull out United States and United Kingdom troops because this would collapse the forward strategy of NATO. In Korea there was no general Allied strategy, and United States troops could be pulled out in exchange for a united Korea, which would have sufficient demilitarization in the North so as to constitute no threat to Vladivostok and Port Arthur. Mr. Eden suggested that we might have a restricted meeting of the Four inviting powers, plus China and North Korea and South Korea to try to get into this matter before I left. I said I would not be indisposed to have such a meeting on Saturday afternoon.6

I told Mr. Eden that I was seeing Molotov at 11 on Saturday morning on the atomic energy matter.7 I was disposed not to seek a joint communiqué which would indicate that the President’s plan had been rejected. I felt that to throw this in the present international situation would greatly aggravate and deteriorate affairs, and would particularly cause a deep resentment in the United States. Mr. Eden agreed to this handling of the matter.

I reminded Mr. Eden that I had had no reply from him with reference to our economic aid to Egypt.8 He said he would talk to me about this before I left.

  1. For documentation on this subject, see volume xii.
  2. See also the memorandum of conversation by Merchant on his meeting with Lester Pearson, Apr. 30, p. 626.
  3. For related documentation, see volume xiii.
  4. For the text, see volume xii.
  5. For documentation on NATO, see volume v.
  6. May 1.
  7. For related documentation, see volume ii.
  8. For related documentation, see volume x.