52. Letter From the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Murphy) to the Secretary of Defense (Wilson)1

Dear Mr. Secretary: In the Secretary’s absence,2 I am replying for him to your letter of February 16, 1955, concerning the negotiation of certain East-West trade control problems, particularly the current controversy with the United Kingdom over an appropriate pattern of shipping controls.3

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I am informed that the position agreed between the Secretary and Harold Stassen, against assembling a Consultative Group meeting at this time to consider the shipping problem, has been explained in a letter to you from Mr. Stassen himself.4 I understand also that the same problem was discussed with you in somewhat greater detail by Mr. Stassen’s Deputy, Admiral DeLany, and by Mr. Goodkind, of this Department, in a meeting in your office on Wednesday morning, February 23.5

It would appear that our two Departments are now in general agreement on how the immediate problem of the shipping controls should be handled, and appropriate cables of instruction have been transmitted to the U.S. representatives in London and Paris.6 Specifically, as amplified in the cables and as outlined in the meeting in your office, the U.S. will make a strenuous effort in the Coordinating Committee to achieve acceptance of the substance of the Consultative Group plan for shipping controls; failing this, we shall attempt to hold firm the maintenance of the existing controls, with such minor changes as we are able or willing to negotiate; and we shall oppose the change in the existing controls which the British indicated in their recent Note to us that they intended to propose in COCOM. It was the Secretary’s and Mr. Stassen’s feeling that our following this course of action in COCOM would exhibit our firmness of purpose in such way as to obviate any erroneous impression on the part of other countries that we had privately agreed with the UK to yield our previous position, without at the same time opening up other politically sensitive matters in an untimely fashion.

As I am sure you recognize, the U.S. tactics on East-West trade matters must be considered in conjunction with other foreign policy problems. If it is possible for us to pursue our security trade control concerns either bilaterally or multilaterally in a manner which seems to offer opportunity for constructive progress while yet avoiding undue increase in the political strains upon the governments of our principal allies, it lies in our net interests to follow such tactics.

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We appreciate having your views on these matters as expressed both in your letter and during the conference in your office.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Murphy 7
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 460.509/2–1655. Secret. Drafted by Goodkind on February 24. A copy was sent to Stassen.
  2. Dulles left Washington on February 18 to attend the first meeting of the Council of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization in Bangkok, followed immediately by a general tour of several Asian nations.
  3. This letter reads in part as follows: “I believe, therefore, that the United Kingdom refusal should be referred to the Consultative Group, and I think a strong stand there by the United States would elicit support from the other participating countries. Acquiescence by the United States to the United Kingdom desire for further discussion of this matter in COCOM would be interpreted by the other countries as another instance of U.S.–U.K. collaboration to circumvent the machinery established for reaching agreement.” (Department of State, Central Files, 460.509/2–1655)
  4. Dulles and Stassen agreed to this position in a telephone conversation of February 10. (Memorandum of telephone conversation; Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations) Stassen’s letter to Wilson, February 20, is in Department of State, Central Files, 460.509/2–2455.
  5. No record of this meeting has been found in Department of State files. However, in a letter to Kalijarvi, dated February 28, A.C. Davis summarized the discussion. (Ibid., 460.509/2–2855)
  6. Topol 1228 to Paris, February 23, repeated to London, and telegram 4327 to London, February 23, repeated to Paris, neither printed. (Ibid., 460.509/2–455)
  7. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.