170. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Secretary of State and the President’s Special Assistant (Stassen), Secretary Dulles’ Residence, Washington, January 20, 1957, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.1

I conferred for about two hours with Mr. Stassen, from 11:00 to 1:00, at my house on Sunday, January 20th.

We discussed primarily the disarmament situation and a draft cable …

I referred to the talks which we had had about Canada, etc., during the week with the Defense officials and Admiral Strauss and the feeling then expressed that it would be undesirable to open up problems of this kind with Congress close on the heels of the Egyptian fracas2 and the feeling by many members of Congress that the British and the French had violated their agreements with us with respect to the use of matériel for NATO purposes only.

Mr. Stassen pointed out that the British did not want to be in a position where there was in effect agreement between the Russians and ourselves and they would seem to be in the role of obstructionists at that juncture. I said I could appreciate their concern but doubted that favorable Congressional action could be obtained on the basis of what to many must seem like a very remote contingency. Mr. Stassen seemed not to be persuaded that this was impractical. He pointed out that similar doubts had been held with respect to getting Congressional approval for the President’s “Atoms for Peace” plan and yet this had been proved to be easily possible.

I said that whoever might be right about this I thought it was a mistake to have the British come here under the illusion that we thought that an exception in their favor could be readily obtained from Congress. I said this would also raise the question of other NATO arrangements. Mr. Stassen said that he recognized this and felt that we would have to include some plan for what he called an “elite” corps drawn from other countries who would have atomic weapons.

I pointed out that this opened up a very complicated vista and Stassen agreed but still felt that we should proceed.

I went over the draft telegram and Stassen concurred in it, but suggested a minor change at the end, to which I agreed.

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Mr. Stassen thereupon discussed the general question of limitation of armament in Europe as related to the reunification of Germany. He felt that we might have to agree to take our troops out of Germany and agree to a sharp limitation on German armament in order to get reunification. I said there was not only the problem of German reunification, but also the problem of the status of the satellites. If there were really independent governments in Eastern Europe, then the problem of Western European security would take on a different complexion. I doubted, however, that it was wise to think in terms of United States withdrawals from Europe merely on the assumption that Germany would be reunified. Mr. Stassen asked whether I did not feel that the independence of the satellites would come about if Soviet forces were withdrawn from the satellites. I said that that was an oversimplification. There were too many ways of keeping control. I pointed out that there were no Soviet forces in Czechoslovakia. It was like the problem of disarmament “controls”—full of practical complexities.

I mentioned Pineau’s suggestion of a four-power group, including Germany, dealing with disarmament as it related to German reunification.3 Mr. Stassen thought this a good idea and again suggested the desirability of his going to Bonn for a conference with Adenauer, Von Brentano,4 etc. I made no comment.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Memoranda of Conversation. Secret; Personal and Private. Drafted by Dulles.
  2. The words “close” and “heels” have been inserted in handwriting, the latter word replacing the word “eve” which was deleted from the source text. “The Egyptian fracas” refers to the Suez crisis in October 1956.
  3. See Document 168.
  4. Heinrich von Brentano, West German Minister of Foreign Affairs.