234. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, February 1, 1956, 4 p.m.1



  • US
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Mr. Allen
  • UK
    • The British Ambassador
    • Mr. Shuckburgh
    • France
    • Minister Lucet2
    • The French Ambassador
[Page 652]


  • Tripartite Declaration

The Secretary handed to the French Ambassador the portion of the joint Declaration relating to the Middle East which will be issued by the President and Prime Minister Eden at 5:00 p.m. today.3 After reading it, Ambassador Couve de Murville referred to the statements that arrangements “have been made for joint discussions as to the nature of the action which should be taken” in the event contingencies arise which were envisaged by the Tripartite Declaration of May 25, 1950, and that the French Government was being invited to participate in these discussions. He asked whether the Secretary of State had any ideas regarding the substance of these discussions.

Mr. Dulles replied that it had been agreed merely that the Three Powers should meet to consider the question. He pointed out that it was very difficult to envisage the exact situation which would have to be met and what specific action would be needed and appropriate. Mr. Dulles asked for comments by the British Ambassador, who concurred in the view Mr. Dulles had expressed.

The French Ambassador asked whether the talks by the Three Governments would be held prior to referring any situation to the Security Council. The Secretary said he was not certain what situations should be brought to the Security Council, chiefly because of Soviet Russia’s membership. Couve de Murville suggested that the question whether any given situation should go to the Security Council would be one of the matters for discussion. He asked whether these discussions would concern both substance and procedure. Mr. Dulles said they would.

Referring then to the Tripartite Declaration of 1950, Mr. Dulles said that question of its reaffirmation had arisen during the discussions between the President and the Prime Minister but that it had been considered preferable to avoid a positive reaffirmation in their communiqué, first because the French were not present during the discussions, and second, because certain sections of the Tripartite Declaration had become outmoded and perhaps rendered invalid by the entry of the Soviet Union into the the armaments picture in the Middle East.

The French Ambassador expressed appreciation for the invitation and said he would convey it promptly to his Government.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 648. Secret. No drafting information appears on the source text. This memorandum was given restricted circulation to appropriate U.S. officials on February 7.
  2. Charles Lucet, Minister of the French Embassy.
  3. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1956, pp. 447–448.