216. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

4229. On receipt Paris tels 43112 and 4318 March 19,3 rptd London 694 and 697, we spoke to Shuckburgh re Pineau’s approach to Ambs Dillon and Jebb re 3-power ministerial meeting on Middle [Page 399] East, and inquired as to FonOff reaction. Shuckburgh said FonOff was considering proposal and Emb would be informed when British position was definite.

Subsequently, as Dept aware, Pineau’s proposal leaked to press and became confused in public eye with idea also apparently held by Pineau that there should be wider conference on subject including Israel and Arab countries (Paris tel 4435 March 23 rptd London 711).4 Diplomatic correspondents in past few days have been writing, ostensibly with FonOff inspiration, that HMG would be prepared join U.S. and French in three-power discussion of Middle East immediately prior to NAC meeting in May5 but that British Government was skeptical of usefulness of trying organize any broader conference at this time.

In discussion matter with Emb rep today, FonOff official took same line and said reply to Pineau’s proposal (Paris tel 4318) was being prepared and would undoubtedly indicate HMG had no objection to 3-power ministerial meeting just before NAC meeting. Reply, however, will not cover question of wider conference since Pineau has not formally proposed such conference and since FonOff in fact is not certain just what he has in mind in this connection. Re possible approach to USSR (Paris tel 4311) Emb gains impression FonOff not enthusiastic.

Diplomatic correspondents have also devoted considerable attention in past few days to reported British plan for effective military action within 24 hours of outbreak of Arab-Israel war, as mentioned in New York Times for March 22.6 When queried by press re existence of such plan, FonOff News Dept took care not to deny report outright as this would have created impression HMG without policy. As result, French Emb rep called at FonOff on March 24 to ask re details of plan. Attempts were made put him off by references to consultations re tripartite declaration agreed on at time of Eden visit to Washington but FonOff not sure how far it succeeded.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1/3–2656. Secret. Received at 4:43 p.m. Repeated to Paris.
  2. Dillon informed the Department in telegram 4311 that French Foreign Minister Christian Pineau had expressed concern about Soviet arms deliveries to Egypt and believed that the United States, the United Kingdom, and France had “to do something to stop this arms race. He said he felt that there should be a three-power ministerial meeting in the near future to consider the question and to arrive at definite conclusions.” Pineau also proposed that the three ministers appeal publicly to the Soviet Union to initiate measures to stop the flow of arms into the Middle East. (Ibid., 611.51/3–1956)
  3. Dillon reported in telegram 4318 that Pineau advanced the same proposal to British Ambassador Sir Gladwyn Jebb. (Ibid.)
  4. Not printed. (Ibid., 396.1/3–2356)
  5. The North Atlantic Council met at Paris on May 4 and 5.
  6. Reference is to Drew Middleton’s article entitled “British Plan Aims To Check Spread of a Mideast War”.