15. Telegram From the Delegation at the SEATO Council Meeting to the Department of State1

Secto 11. At lunch today (February 23) with Secretary Eden2 referred to UK–US–Turkish talks re ME defense. He said UK wished, after conclusion these talks, have further bilateral talks with US aimed at reaching agreement on governmental level re overall strategy Middle East. Sir John Harding3 explained that present US-UK-Turkish military talks were covering specific aspects ME defense but that moving ahead on overall problem was difficult until there was general agreement between US–UK on overall strategy. This was emphasized [Page 22] by recent Commonwealth talks in London. When UK had discussed various aspects ME defense plans with some Commonwealth countries, latter, particularly South Africa, while indicating general agreement, had said they wanted to be sure US was in agreement ME defense strategy. Therefore, UK believes US-UK military talks on overall strategy ME should be held as soon as US-UK-Turkish talks completed. US-UK talks should result in agreement on strategic concept subsequently to be endorsed by governments. On this basis it would be possible to start building ME defense, solidly tying in when possible other states in area. Building defenses would then be based on sound concept and solid logistical system taking into account both UK and US capabilities.

Secretary said he regretted Admiral Radford had been unable to come to Bangkok as his presence would have made possible fuller discussion this matter. However, with delicate situation Formosa Straits, Radford had felt it necessary revise his earlier plans to accompany Secretary to Bangkok. Secretary said he appreciated reasons for Eden’s suggestion but would wish discuss this matter more fully in Washington on his return.

Eden suggested that Harding should give US memorandum setting forth British ideas and reasons for desiring US-UK talks. Will telegram Harding memo when received.

In further general conversation Eden and Harding remarked that whole ME picture looked considerably more encouraging. [4 lines of source text not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–BA/2–2455. Top Secret. Repeated to London.
  2. During this meeting, Eden also informed, Dulles of his recent conversation with, Nasser in Cairo, during which Nasser had voiced opposition to the Turkish-Iraqi Pact. Dulles reported on this portion of his conversation with Eden in Secto 13 from Bangkok, February 24, printed in vol. XIV, pp. 7172.
  3. Field Marshal Sir John Harding, Chief of the Imperial General Staff of the United Kingdom.