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

3396. Following are highlights of first two days of Prime Ministers conference2 as derived by Embassy from various reliable sources:

[Page 598]

Churchill was in “top form” as he opened Prime Ministers conference yesterday afternoon. He made masterly survey of world situation as he saw it, and delivered an impassioned defense of the United States and its fundamental good intentions, and the mature judgment and peaceful purposes of the President. He spoke of the dangers of atomic war but of his conviction that peace would prevail. Menzies yesterday evening before the Australia Club spoke with equal warmth of United States policies.

Eden followed with statement on Formosa which closely resembled his various public utterances on subject. He showed Prime Ministers record of Makins’ last talk with Secretary and telegram in reply just despatched from Foreign Office.3 In fact discussion of Formosa dominated most of yesterday’s and this morning’s sessions. Everyone seemed worried and nobody seemed to have a ready-made solution. Every one seemed to accept the President’s differentiation between Formosa and the offshore islands, and there was a generally sympathetic appreciation of the United States’ position and difficulties. Despite this feeling of friendliness there was an apprehension in certain quarters that if the alliance were to founder it would be on Far Eastern developments. It was mutually agreed today to drop the subject of Formosa temporarily and await developments.

Foreign affairs discussion then turned to WEU. Menzies chided Eden over failure to consult Australia before committing British troops to continent, but both Menzies and Holland4 gave unqualified approval to Paris–London accords which obviously pleased Eden enormously. Nehru spoke quietly but convincingly. Apologizing for intrusion of a remark regarding an area which was outside his sphere of direct interest, he wondered whether twelve German divisions were worth all the heat generated about them. His main contribution was account of his recent trip to China. He gave “dispassionate and effective appreciation” of Chinese Communists, who he thought were misunderstood abroad. He believed emphasis they placed on constructive “national, economic and social reform” measures far outweighed their purely destructive Communist activities. He was sure they wanted peace in order pursue reconstruction, but it essential they be seated in United Nations.

Embassy hopes be able report further tomorrow.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 741.13/2–155. Secret. Repeated to New Delhi, Karachi, Colombo, Canberra, Wellington, Pretoria, Ottawa, and Salisbury.
  2. The Commonwealth Prime Ministers met in London, January 31–February 8, 1955.
  3. A memorandum of conversation between Sir Roger Makins and Secretary Dulles on January 28 and a memorandum of conversation between Makins and Acting Secretary Hoover on February 2, at which Makins delivered the message, are printed in vol. II, pp. 161 and 195, respectively.
  4. Sir Sidney Holland, Prime Minister of New Zealand.