142. Telegram From the Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State0

Secto 32. Paris for USRO and Embassy.

Third plenary session NATO Ministerial Meeting opened 10 a.m., May 6,1 continuing discussion of agenda item II—Current International Situation.
Pella (Italy) believes exchange of views in Permanent Council on problems of East-West relations has great value. Italy insists that any summit meeting must be preceded by careful preparation and must lead to positive results. Without careful preparation such meeting would only benefit Soviets. But West should not be negative or take rigid attitude on procedure. Agenda is not question of procedure but substance. NAC must consider carefully. Italy has welcomed statements by US and others that Western countries conducting preparatory talks are not necessarily only ones which would attend Foreign Ministers’ meeting or summit conference.2 Disarmament seems to Italy key question. Agrees with Lloyd on danger separating nuclear and conventional disarmament questions. Re disengagement, agrees with Pineau on dangers such proposals.3 West stand on these principles: (A) it must not weaken its military position; (B) proposals for “special areas” in Europe must be considered in framework overall agreement between East and West; and (C) there must be effective controls. Italy considers German reunification and European security closely linked, and welcomed Brentano’s remarks this subject yesterday that GFR continues consider these subjects “strictly connected”.4 On economic and cultural exchanges, summit should only lay down general directives for later detailed negotiations.
Hansen (Denmark)—Danish public opinion looks to reduction tensions, whether by summit meeting or otherwise. Soviets appear want summit. Agrees on need careful preparation, and hopes publicity can be avoided, so as not freeze positions. No grounds for optimism but West [Page 339] must persist. Hopes West can make constructive proposals and take initiative away from Soviets. Re Rapacki Plan, some NATO countries say plan too limited to provide any secure basis. But he would like explain views Nordic countries. [2-½ lines of source text not declassified] Should limit and reduce conventional forces, so as to eliminate disparity between East and West. If after study these points should be put forward, would be constructive initiative. Soviets scored point on test suspension. Asked Secretary what countermeasures are possible. Disarmament problem complex but might be possible start with limited measures and go on by stages. Denmark supported disarmament proposals by Western Four last August,5 and does not believe UN should be abandoned as organ for dealing with disarmament matters.
Smith (Canada) said exchanges of letters with Soviets has not led us closer to agreement. Need establish basis for confidence but Soviets do nothing to increase confidence. Cited Soviet veto US Arctic proposal.6 Praised coordination in Permanent Council as of great value to Canada and to unity whole Alliance. Soviet letters need quick responses and NATO consultation should not slow up such responses. NATO must be prudent and not take Soviet pronouncements at face value, but Soviets may really want relax tensions. NATO must not jeopardize its security. Soviet initiatives having profound effect Western public opinion. Western governments must show patience and sometimes “roll with punch”. Mentioned Diefenbaker’s7 views on desirability nuclear test suspension under international supervision. Thought Western disarmament package might be broken up to some extent. Welcomed US proposal on Arctic zone.
Smith then turned to discussion relation between preparations for possible summit and NATO military planning. Canada fully agreed December HG decisions on NATO’s need achieve most effective pattern defense, with availability most modern weapons. Like Lloyd he assumes NAC will in due course be seized with questions NATO stockpile and IRBM’s, bilateral negotiations on which are under way. NATO must keep these decisions and their timing under continuing political review. Flexibility must be maintained otherwise opportunity for substantive agreement might be lost. NATO strategy and defense is basic to possibility of meaningful negotiations with Soviets, and Soviet leaders are aware NATO’s determination take whatever measures are necessary. [Page 340] We have thus placed ourselves in favorable negotiating position. First steps toward relieving tensions may have been small ones. [2-½ lines of source text not declassified] Supported UK ideas for agenda possible summit meeting. Hard see any possibilities for agreement with Soviets. Perhaps if a summit occurs it could be portrayed as second such meeting and group could be set up to examine possibilities of further agreements and report to future summit meetings. Stressed that present is time for complete unity and solidarity in NATO, as we approach negotiations with Soviets.
Remainder discussion third plenary session contained immediately following telegram.8
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1-CO/5–658. Secret. Repeated to Paris and pouched to the NATO capitals and Moscow.
  2. The verbatim (C-VR(58)33) record of this session, dated May 6, is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 1000.
  3. Secto 50 from Paris, May 7, transmitted a joint statement given to the press by the U.S., British, and French Foreign Ministers recognizing the possibility of including other countries, such as Italy, in a summit conference. (ibid., Central Files, 396.1/5–758)
  4. The views of Lloyd and Pineau are summarized in Document 140.
  5. See Document 140.
  6. Regarding NATO support for disarmament proposals of the four Western powers, see Polto 310 from Paris, August 2, 1957; telegram 1162 from London, August 15, 1957; and Dulles’ memorandum to Stassen, September 27, 1957, in Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XX, pp. 687, 705, and 723, respectively.
  7. See footnote 2, Document 137.
  8. John G. Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada.
  9. Document 143.