156. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Current NATO Problems


  • The Secretary of State1
  • General Lauris Norstad, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
  • Mr. Joseph N. Greene, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State
  • Mr. Ray L. Thurston, SHAPE/L

The conversation opened with a review of French problems. The Secretary referred to the communication he had just received from General De Gaulle in which the latter proposes the establishment of a mechanism of consultation between France, the U.S. and the U.K. on problems throughout the world, and the extension of the area to be covered by the NATO Treaty to African and Asian areas as far as the Indian Ocean.2 The Secretary wondered exactly what General De Gaulle had in mind, particularly since there were no French territories in these regions. General Norstad said that he did not believe that De Gaulle had really given any thought to the implications of his proposal and that, given the kind of relations that existed between De Gaulle and his subordinates, it was doubtful that the latter would be able to throw any real light on how [Page 358] General De Gaulle planned to work this matter out. General Norstad expressed the view that any attempt to extend NATO responsibilities along the lines suggested by General De Gaulle would seriously weaken NATO which, as now constituted, affords a strong community of interest.

There was some discussion of the Secretary’s talks with De Gaulle of last July,3 [4 lines of source text not declassified]. The Secretary asked how the AdenauerDe Gaulle conversations4 had gone, and General Norstad replied that, from the information available to him, they had gone very well indeed.

The Secretary related recent conversations with the British in which they had taken the position that they would maintain their force levels in Germany at the 55,000 level in 1959 with the understanding that in 1960 they would have to reduce to 45,000.5 The Secretary asked General Norstad’s opinion on this question. The General replied that in his view to agree to the formula offered by the British would be just as bad from the viewpoint of the NATO military effort as agreeing to an immediate reduction to 45,000 men. The General strongly expressed the hope that we would not make a commitment to the British on this point, and that the question of British troop levels in 1960 be kept open for review at a later date.

General Norstad brought up the subject of Cyprus, and recounted his recent trip to Turkey and Greece and his talks with the military and political leaders there.6 He said that he thought the Cyprus question had now reached a truly critical stage and hoped that the United States would take a strong hand in reaching a solution. The Secretary alluded to past efforts on the U.S. side to help out in this matter and to our continued willingness to mediate in this problem, if the parties directly concerned would agree to our playing this role. He indicated that uppermost in his mind at this time was the critical importance of our relations with the United Kingdom, and that this had to be taken into account in connection with any U.S. initiatives on the question of Cyprus. While agreeing with the Secretary that whatever was to be done would have to be worked out in cooperation with the British, General Norstad concluded by again expressing the hope that we would move in on this one urgently.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D199. Secret. Drafted by Thurston on September 29. The meeting was held at the Waldorf Astoria.
  2. Dulles was in New York to give a speech.
  3. See Part 2, Document 45.
  4. See Part 2, Document 33.
  5. At De Gaulle’s invitation, Adenauer came to France on September 14 to discuss questions of common interest to the two nations. For Adenauer’s account, see Erinnerungen, pp. 436–439; for De Gaulle’s account, see Mémoires, pp. 184–190.
  6. See Document 138.
  7. Norstad visited Turkey and Greece in late August. No record of his talks with military and political leaders there has been found in Department of State files.