227. Memorandum of a Conversation, White House, Washington, January 31, 1956, 1 p.m.1



  • US
    • President Eisenhower
    • Secretary Dulles
    • Ambassador Aldrich
    • Mr. MacArthur
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Mr. Allen
    • Mr. Robertson
    • Colonel Goodpaster
  • UK
    • Prime Minister Eden
    • Foreign Secretary Lloyd
    • Ambassador Makins
    • Sir Harold Caccia
    • Sir Leslie Rowan

[Here follows a list of subjects discussed.]

The Secretary reported to the President and to the Prime Minister that conversations with Mr. Lloyd at the morning meeting2 had covered Vietnam, Laos, Malaya and Singapore, SEATO and the Communist threat in Asia.

As regards the Middle East, the Secretary said a dilemma had arisen in the effort to find suitable action by the Security Council. It was difficult to draft a resolution which would strengthen the ability of the Tripartite Powers3 to take action and yet avoid Soviet interference.


With respect to Vietnam he mentioned the Chou En-lai letter addressed to the co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference calling for a reconvening of a new Geneva Conference on Indochina. Chou En-lai charged Prime Minister Diem with continued disregard of the Geneva Agreement in his refusal to hold consultations with the Viet Minh on free general elections for Vietnam in July 1956. Diem, said the Secretary, claimed that he was not opposed to the holding of free elections but that he must insist that elections not be held until conditions had been established in North Vietnam which would insure that they would be free. He stated further that elections for a constitutional assembly in South Vietnam were planned for March 4 and that the US and UK had agreed to stall along until after these elections which Diem claimed would give him broader authority to speak for the [Page 625] people. The Secretary said that he planned to visit Vietnam on March 14 at which time he would attempt to persuade Diem to take steps which could be construed as conforming to the Geneva Accords.

The Secretary told the President that the violations of the Geneva Agreement by the Pathet Lao in Laos had been discussed and that Foreign Minister Lloyd had reported on the situation existing in Malaya and Singapore. He said further that he had made brief reports on the situation in the Formosa Straits and on the Johnson–Wang Talks in Geneva; that there had been a brief discussion of Chinese trade controls and of Chinese representation in the UN, the latter two subjects being left for further discussion between the President and Prime Minister Eden.

Chinese Representation in the UN

President Eisenhower said that he wished to make clear the American position with reference to Chinese representation in the UN at this time. He stated that sentiment in the country and in Congress was overwhelmingly against the admission of Red China and that under present circumstances he, himself, shared this view. The Communists were still aggressors in Korea, they had tortured our prisoners, had thrown our Nationals into jail without trial and were still holding Americans in prison in violation of their commitment to release them. In international relations, the Red Chinese had violated all the decencies supposed to exist between civilized nations and so long as they remained as they were, he would be opposed to their admission to the UN. If and when they changed, he, at least, would be willing to take another look but even then he would still have a difficult public relations problem with the country at large. The American people, said the President, were deeply resentful of the 140,000 casualties suffered in Korea and he referred to Chou En-lai’s recent statement threatening to take Formosa by force,4 adding that if Red China were voted into the UN, it would not be thirty minutes before a resolution would be introduced upon the floor of the Senate for the US to get out.

Prime Minister Eden replied that he understood the difficulty of our position but that it was also a “frightfully difficult position” for him at home. He said that the UK had gone along on a year by year basis and that it was becoming increasingly difficult to continue with the moratorium. Secretary Dulles reminded [him] that in the past the period covered had been the calendar year. He pointed out that the 11th Session might not begin until November which would mean that [Page 626] sessions would be continued into 1957.5 He, therefore, suggested that the new moratorium cover the entire period of the session rather than the calendar year 1956 in order to avoid having to bring up the question again in the middle of the session.

President Eisenhower referred again to US opposition. He pointed out that the UN Charter required members to be “peace loving”. The Red Chinese, he said, were still branded as aggressors by UN Resolution;6 they still had troops in North Korea in defiance of the UN and they should not be allowed to shoot their way into membership.

Prime Minister Eden was non-committal. He said he understood the President’s position but he reiterated that he would be in great difficulty not only at home but with some of the Commonwealth countries. He said he would see what could be done.

Offshore Islands

[For text of this discussion, see volume III, pages 293–294.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 648. Secret. No drafting information appears on the source text. The conversation took place at a luncheon. This memorandum was given restricted circulation to appropriate U.S. officials on February 7. Eden recorded erroneously that the discussion took place on January 30; see Anthony Eden, Full Circle (Boston, 1960), pp. 371–372.
  2. See supra.
  3. The United States, United Kingdom, and France.
  4. Reference is to the political report by Chou En-lai at the second session of the Second National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, January 30, 1956.
  5. The 11th Session of the U.N. General Assembly was held November 12–December 21, 1956, and January 2–March 8, 1957.
  6. Reference is to U.N. Resolution 498 (V) condemning Chinese Communist aggression in Korea, February 1, 1951.