141. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the President and the Secretary of State, Washington, March 6, 1955, 5:15 p.m.1

I reported to the President the conclusions from my trip.

With reference to Quemoy and Matsu, I said I did not think that as things now stood we could sit by and watch the Nationalist forces there be crushed by the Communists. I felt that the reaction not only on Formosa but in other parts of Asia would be dangerously bad. On the other hand, I hoped that if there was time, Chiang might reorient his policies so that less importance would attach to these islands. I referred to my statement to Chiang which the President said he had read and thought well of.

The President indicated his agreement with me that, under present conditions, we should help to support these two coastal positions. I said that this would require the use of atomic missiles. The President said that he thoroughly agreed with this, and, indeed, he [Page 337]suggested my putting into my proposed speech2 a paragraph indicating that we would use atomic weapons as interchangeable with the conventional weapons. This did not, of course, mean weapons of mass destruction. He said that with the number of planes that we had available in the Asian area, it would be quite impractical to accomplish the necessary results in the way of putting out airfields and gun emplacements without using atomic missiles.

I asked the President to look over the last pages of my draft report3 to be sure that the emphasis and tone met with his approval. He did so and indicated that it did have his approval subject to two slight verbal changes. He said he would read the rest of the speech during the evening.

[Here follows discussion concerning possible presidential appointments.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Meetings with the President. Top Secret. Drafted on March 7.
  2. Secretary Dulles reported on his Asian trip in a radio and television address on March 8. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, March 21, 1955, pp. 459–464.
  3. The draft has not been found in Department of State files.