208. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting of the Delegation at the Geneva Conference, President’s Villa, Geneva, July 20, 1955, 6 p.m.1

At a meeting at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20, 1955, in the President’s Villa at Geneva, the following attended:

  • The President
  • The Secretary of State
  • Mr. Livingston Merchant, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • General Alfred M. Gruenther, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe
  • Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Mr. Robert B. Anderson, Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Mr. Harold E. Stassen, Special Assistant to the President on Disarmament
  • Mr. Nelson A. Rockefeller, Special Assistant to the President
  • Mr. Dillon Anderson, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Colonel Andrew J. Goodpaster, White House Staff Secretary

Governor Stassen handed to the President and read a “Draft of Statement of President Eisenhower on the Subject of Disarmament”.2 A copy of that instrument is attached to the original of this memorandum.

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The President expressed himself as being entirely in agreement with the principles enunciated in the paper, particularly with reference to the importance of an effective inspection system in connection with any kind of disarmament agreement. In the discussion which followed, those in attendance proceeded to consider the several possible areas and methods of inspection as a part of steps that might be taken to test the efficacy and practicality of disarmament programs.

The President reported briefly on his discussion at breakfast with the British Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary,3 and the fact that the British were in accord with our view as to the importance of effective inspection as a part of any kind of disarmament program; also the desirability of exploring in this Conference the possibilities of progress in this direction.

There was a discussion of the possibility of armaments limitation in the context of a divided Germany; of limited armaments in zones in Germany in each side of a neutral zone; and of some kind of limitation of forces in NATO nations and in the nations participating in the Warsaw Agreement. (There was no mention of the matter discussed with the British as to the possibility of limitation of armaments and inspection by all participants in the Warsaw Treaty except Russia on the east, and all participants in NATO on the west except the United Kingdom and the United States.)

General Gruenther pointed out that there was a sort of inspection going on now, in the form of the so-called Potsdam teams—namely, representatives of the East were permitted to travel in West Germany, and a team from the West had not been denied access to any installations in East Germany. General Gruenther apparently seemed to feel that this was a program that was working.

When it was mentioned that this system might be extended, General Gruenther pointed out that from our standpoint we would have to be very particular about its going into effect, inasmuch as we had some very sensitive installations in adjacent areas—installations which had been so apparent from the heavy security surrounding them that a visiting Congressman recently had no difficulty in recognizing the location of these sensitive installations.

The President mentioned the fact that at breakfast with the British he had indicated to them his belief that a plan for mutual overflights in the East and the West, to include Russia and the United States, would not be unacceptable to him. (This subject likewise is dealt with on page 4 of the Stassen memorandum.4)

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There was general agreement at the meeting that in the plenary session of Thursday afternoon the President could appropriately suggest consideration of a plan to permit such overflights and photographs if the Russians would do likewise. The President pointed out that in his opinion, the Russians already had the means of knowing the location of virtually all our installations, and that mutual agreements for such overflights would undoubtedly benefit us more than the Russians because we knew very little about their installations.

The question then arose as to whether it would be entirely appropriate for this idea to be advanced at the meeting Thursday afternoon without some advice to the British and French beforehand. It was decided that there would be no such disclosure or tripartite discussion of the plan, in view of the likelihood that the impact of it would be lost through a leak. It was likewise agreed that the President would not include it in his opening statement on disarmament, but would mention it, in more or less extemporaneous fashion, on the “second round”.

After the meeting broke up I mentioned to the President that Secretary Anderson was prepared to discuss with him the possibility of further aid to Iraq along the lines suggested by Eden at breakfast; that I had called Bob in Paris and asked him to be in a position to indicate availability of funds to increase our offshore procurement of British Centurion tanks (up to 50, costing 100,000 pounds each) to give to the Iraqis in support of their adherence to the Northern Tier concept as represented by the Turko-Iraqi treaty; also in order to assist the present government of Iraq, which is an acceptable government to us and which is on a somewhat shaky footing at this time. The President and Secretary Anderson agreed to have some further talks about the matter this morning (Thursday, July 215).

Dillon Anderson6
Special Assistant to the President
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, White House Office, Project “Clean Up”. Top Secret. Drafted by Dillon Anderson on July 21. For another account of the conversation, see infra . According to Merchant, who arrived just as the meeting began, the session went as follows:

    “The President was in an easy chair by the fireplace with the Secretary beside him. Dillon Anderson was there and Andy Goodpaster was sitting by the door. All the others were recent arrivals from Paris: Al Gruenther, Supreme Commander for NATO in Europe, and long-time friend of the President; Harold Stassen and Nelson Rockefeller, Presidential Special Assistants; Admiral Radford, Chairman of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff; and Bob Anderson, Deputy Secretary of Defense and one of the most competent men in all the Government.

    “The subject was Disarmament, which was on the Conference agenda for the next afternoon, and what the President’s statement should contain. The forthcoming ‘open skies’ proposal was discussed at length. There was no argument raised against it or its unveiling on Thursday. The question most seriously debated was whether or not it should be included in a comprehensive statement by the President on disarmament in all its phases or whether he should confine his speech to putting forward the ‘open skies’ proposal. I felt strongly that when the President spoke on the subject of disarmament at the Summit Conference the entire world would expect him to deal at some length with the whole complicated subject and hence the ‘open skies’ proposal should be handled as one section in his statement or in a separate later intervention. I’m not sure the Secretary agreed with me but in any event after considerable discussion the President decided to make an opening statement covering the general subject. He did not apparently then decide whether to include ‘open skies’ in his opening remarks or leave that for later injection into the session.”

    (Merchant, Recollections, pp. 37–38)
  2. Not printed. A copy of the draft statement is in Eisenhower Library, Whitman File.
  3. See Document 199.
  4. Reference is to the draft cited in footnote 2 above.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 220.
  6. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.