308. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, October 18, 19571


  • Preparations for the President’s Talks with Prime Minister Macmillan, October 25 and 26
[Page 792]


  • Mr. John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State
  • Ambassador Whitney
  • Mr. C. Burke Elbrick, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • Mr. Lane Timmons, Director, Regional Affairs
  • Mr. William N. Dale, Officer in Charge, United Kingdom and Ireland Affairs
  • Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, British Foreign Secretary
  • Sir Harold Caccia, British Ambassador to the United States
  • Lord Hood, British Minister to the United States

The Secretary stated that he attached the greatest importance to Prime Minister Macmillan’s visit to Washington next week. It should mark the beginning of a new and closer phase in Anglo-American relations which in turn should be projected into the relations we both have with other friendly countries.

The Secretary said that the Soviets from 1948 to 1950 took action which tended to unify us and stimulate activity on our part. The Korean War, for instance, caused a revival of Western military effort without which the Soviets would by now have been very far ahead of us. The Secretary recalled that our defenses were in so deplorable a state in 1950 that we had had to borrow back tanks we had given the Philippines for use in the Korean campaign. He said that we had scrutinized our expenditures for guided missiles so carefully that before 1950 only about $50 million was spent on their development. In 1950 we spent $1 billion, and since then we have been spending from $3 to $4 billion annually. The impetus of the Korean War also caused us to create forces in being under a unified NATO command in Europe. (See attached addendum.)2

The Secretary stated that now the Soviets in their eagerness to gain a propaganda advantage and to cover up a period of relative military weakness, have again taken actions which should bring us closer together. This, he added, underlies what Prime Minister Macmillan had written to the President and what the President had said in his toast to the Queen last night.3

The Secretary said that it is easy enough to say that our relations should be closer but that concrete steps to carry out our intentions are more difficult. He doubted whether we would have concrete proposals [Page 793] ready to make by Wednesday but said that we would be ready to give the most careful consideration to any proposals the British should make. The Secretary then reiterated that this visit should nonetheless give rise to steps for the consolidation of our relationship and its projection to other friendly countries allied with us.

He mentioned that Mr. Elbrick and other members of the Department’s regular staff were occupied with the heavy daily load of business and that, therefore Ambassador Merchant had been asked to come down from Ottawa in order to concentrate over the next few days on the subject matter of the Macmillan visit. He said that a working group will be set up under Ambassador Merchant to cooperate with the British in preparing for next week’s meetings and expressed hope that the British would do as much preparatory thinking as possible on their side.

The Secretary said that in the course of the Queen’s visit all the best sentiments had been expressed and that if we can’t turn this sentimentality into something more practical by Prime Minister Macmillan’s visit it will have been a waste and world opinion will be disillusioned.

The Foreign Secretary quoted from a recent editorial in the Daily Mirror of October 18, stating:

“Nothing could damage the Western cause more than another communiqué from Washington [after the MacmillanEisenhower talks]4 full of flannel, cordiality and meaningless diplomatic twaddle.”

The Secretary said that we face a delicate legal situation because restrictive legislation concerning atomic matters is still on the books. He stated that we can’t change it until Congress is in session but that we can agree next week on the changes which we will seek. Even here he added it is doubtful whether we will have specific changes worked out by Wednesday even though a working group on this matter is already in operation. He mentioned again the importance of thinking out what we can do to make the Macmillan talks as useful as possible. Finally, he suggested that Ambassador Merchant’s function with relation to the visit be kept secret.

Ambassador Whitney pointed out that the editorial quoted by the Foreign Secretary shows that if a communiqué is issued, it will have to contain real substance. He wondered whether we should not give the press the impression that there will be no formal communiqué.

[Page 794]

The Secretary said it wasn’t clear yet whether or not there should be a communiqué. The President opposes communiqués and so does the Prime Minister, he said, unless they actually say something. If we can reach some agreements and if the world can be told about them, he thought we should make a statement.

Mr. Lloyd said that he will be here all day Sunday and on Tuesday afternoon and evening. He hoped it would be possible to see the Secretary again in order to discuss subjects other than the Middle East which he had in mind, particularly reduction of forces in Germany, and to exchange further ideas about next week’s talks.

The Secretary and Mr. Lloyd agreed to meet again on Tuesday.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.4111/10–1857. Secret. Drafted by Dale. The substance of this conversation was transmitted in telegram 2907 to London, October 19. (Ibid., 033.4111/10–1957)
  2. The addendum reads:

    “The correct figure for expenditures on guides missiles before 1950 is about $600 million and not $50 million as stated. Mr. Dale (BNA) notified Mr. Jackling of the British Embassy of this on October 25, 1957.

    “It may also be noted that expenditures during Fiscal Years 1951 and 1952 were in the region of $800 million and $1 billion, respectively. Thereafter, annual expenditures were at the rate of approximately $3 to $4 billion.

    “These figures were obtained from the Department of Defense.”

  3. For text of the President’s toast, see Department of State Bulletin, November 11, 1957, pp. 742–743.
  4. Brackets in the source text.