263. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, August 1, 19551


  • Preparations for the October Foreign Ministers Meeting in Geneva


  • The Secretary of State
  • Sir Roger Makins, British Ambassador
  • Mr. Maurice Couve de Murville, French Ambassador
  • Mr. F.J. Leishman, First Secretary, British Embassy
  • W. Barbour, EUR

The Secretary asked the British and French Ambassadors to call today and discuss with him in a general way some of his preliminary thinking as to the preparations which will be necessary for the four-power Foreign Ministers’ meeting in October. He indicated that in his view it is important that the three Western powers maintain the initiative achieved at the Heads of Government Geneva meeting and in this connection said that he is thinking of the desirability that the West be prepared to table fairly specific papers on Germany and European security. On the former, he would have in mind a revised Eden plan,2 possibly dressed up to include dates when the proposed steps might be taken. Clearly in order to maintain the initiative it would be a desirable technique to continue to keep German unification to the fore with the idea that the more expectation of unification generated, the more pressure to that end is exerted on the Soviets. The Secretary mentioned this continual reiteration technique as a major factor in the successful conclusion of the Austrian treaty. In the Secretary’s opinion the Soviets currently are more concerned with the effect of the unification of Germany on their Eastern European position than they are with European security as a problem. The recent developments in Eastern Europe, particularly the Austrian treaty, the Soviet-Yugoslav conversations have jeopardized Soviet control of its satellites and the loss of East Germany would further threaten the Soviet position in that area. Soviet concern at these developments was indicated by the visit to the GDR of the Soviet Geneva delegation.

On European security the Secretary envisages a security treaty similarly dressed up with specifics to the extent possible. However, he noted that yesterday he had tried his hand in a preliminary way at a draft of such a treaty and the exercise had emphasized the problems [Page 543] involved. He referred particularly to the importance that the paper not mention the Warsaw organization which would tend to perpetuate it and said that to avoid such mention he had come to the thought that probably NATO could not be mentioned specifically either. The paper thus might specify only individual countries. In any event, it is clear that considerable preparation will be necessary before the October meeting which leads to the problem of establishing the date for that meeting. The Secretary inquired whether the Ambassadors’ governments had expressed any views on the date. The French Ambassador was without instructions. Sir Roger said his government was thinking of as late in October as possible, and having in mind the scheduled NATO Defense Ministers meeting in the early part of the month and WEU Council Meeting on the 17th, is disposed to suggest October 24, a Monday. The Secretary said he would prefer October 31, which is also a Monday. The Secretary proposed that when the three governments decide on the most desirable date, it should be suggested to the Soviets in Moscow through the senior Ambassador there i.e., French Ambassador Joxe.

The Secretary then turned to the problem of prior consultations noting that the Foreign Ministers would presumably be present at the opening of the General Assembly in New York in September, which would provide occasion for consultations at least between the three and possibly as might be desirable, including Molotov in regard to procedures. The Secretary asked whether it could be assumed that Macmillan and Pinay would attend the General Assembly opening and, although neither had any specific indication, both Ambassadors thought such attendance likely. It was noted that there is as yet no indication whether Molotov will attend, but if he did not intend to do so, he would no doubt be stimulated to come for such four-power discussions.

There followed a discussion of the role of NATO in the pre-conference work. The Secretary raised the question as to whether SHAPE should not be asked to produce its thoughts on European security, with particular reference to problems of a zone wherein armaments would be established by agreement, etc. Sir Roger and de Murville both thought that SHAPE could only appropriately provide such appraisal in response to directives from the NATO Council, and de Murville raised the matter of the role of the Standing Group in such a matter. It was generally concluded that the NATO Council would have to be consulted at an early stage in any case and the concern of Italy for a greater consultative role through NATO was also commented on. Although greater NATO participation would complicate matters materially, the Secretary remarked that it would be impossible to table at Geneva any specific draft of a security treaty in which the NATO powers would be expected to participate [Page 544] without pretty thorough advance consultation. Consequently, such consultation seems inevitable.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/8–155. Top Secret. Drafted by Barbour.
  2. For text of the Eden Plan, FPM(54)17, dated January 29, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. vii, Part 1, p. 1177.
  3. At a similar meeting on August 5 the Ambassadors and Dulles agreed to propose October 27 as the opening day for the Foreign Ministers meeting and to meet in New York on September 27. They discussed further the steps that would need to be taken in preparation for the four-power meeting. (Memorandum of conversation by Barbour, August 5; Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/8–555) On August 8 Ambassador Bohlen reported that he discussed the date of the meeting with Molotov who agreed to October 27. (Telegram 304 from Moscow; ibid., 396.1–GE/8–855)