112. Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the President and the Secretary of State, Washington, February 16, 1955, 8:55 a.m.1

Returned Secy Dulles’ call.

Dulles will take [Churchill’s letter] with him to N.Y., for study on plane, & discuss with Pres. tomorrow morning.

Pres. thought of one question he might ask: “What position would you (Winston) expect us to take if Hong Kong were threatened?” They don’t fear that, however, & we may get no reaction.

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Dulles said they [do not] appreciate the length to which we have already gone. Pointed out that, after all, we did get Chiang’s agreement on Formosa treaty; got him to agree to use of no equipment or people we have trained outside Formosa & the Pescadores; got him to acquiesce on the UN move for cease-fire; got him to evacuate the Tachens—in Dulles’ opinion, it’s very clear that we cannot at this time squeeze any more out of him.

Pres. brought up Walter Robertson stopping there for about week.2 Thinks he should get an understanding of our own political situation, at home & abroad, & tell the Generalissimo that we’re working like dogs in an attempt to keep 75 F–86’s up to snuff, & keep training program going along so that they always have 75 pilots to man them. He persists in looking at it as a civil war, & not as a war against Communism; he wants us to recognize it as civil war & to get in on his side. Pres. thinks that if we could get understanding between him & ourselves on the world politically, then we could be very, very strong on the rest of it, on which Winston will go along 100%.

Dulles said Robertson is a little reluctant to undertake this mission—feels he may lead the Generalissimo into thinking wrongly. Pres. said we wouldn’t want Robertson to urge anything on the Generalissimo; could, however, give him some guidance.

[Here follows a record of subsequent, unrelated telephone conversations.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Probably prepared by Ann Whitman. The conversation is also recorded in notes by Phyllis Bernau on which the bracketed interpolations are based. (Ibid., Dulles Papers, White House Telephone Conversations)
  2. A February 14 memorandum by Dulles of a conversation with the President reads in part as follows:

    “The President said he felt that it was important to develop the thinking of the Chinese Nationalists along somewhat different lines. I told him that I had broached this matter with George Yeh. The President asked whether it might be a good idea for Walter Robertson to stop off at Taiwan and spend a few days there for just an informal chat rather than anything like a negotiation.” (Ibid., Meetings with the President)