460. Memorandum of Conversation0




  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Mr. Stoessel
  • France
    • M. Couve de Murville
    • Ambassador Alphand


  • Discussion of Western Summit Meeting; British-West German Relations

The Secretary queried Couve as to his views concerning the desirability of a Western Summit meeting in the event that the present Geneva [Page 1021] Conference adjourns or breaks up without positive results. Couve replied that such a meeting might be a good idea, but that it should not be held immediately following a breakup of the present conference. Perhaps it could be held just before the reconvening of the UN General Assembly on September 14. However, Couve did not know how this would fit into British planning concerning elections, and he realized that it also might present some difficulties for the President’s schedule, particularly in connection with the termination of the Congressional session.

Couve went on to say that he thought a Western Summit meeting could be held in Paris and that this would be especially desirable since it would provide an opportunity for talks between the President and de Gaulle. Couve thought that such talks should be held before the fall and that they represent a means of beginning to get out of our present difficulties.

Couve added that Adenauer also would like a Western Summit meeting. Perhaps this would present an opportunity for a smoothing over of difficulties between Adenauer and Macmillan. Couve wondered what the basic reasons might be for the differences between the United Kingdom and Germany; he thought they might be based on personal divergence between Adenauer and Macmillan.

The Secretary suggested that economic considerations might be at the root of the problem. He said that British sensitivity with regard to economic actions which might affect their own existence is very great.

Mr. Merchant commented that an additional reason might be that the wounds left by World War II have not completely healed in Great Britain. This was particularly evident in the Heuss visit,1 and politicians are quick to note such things.

Couve concluded the discussion by saying that economic considerations also affect French relations with the United Kingdom, but not to such an extent as pertains to the German-UK relationships. Couve was inclined to think that much of the trouble lay in the fact that Adenauer is an old man who is inclined to be very suspicious. Adenauer seems to believe that there is some secret agreement between Macmillan and Khrushchev. The French have tried to dissipate these worries on Adenauer’s part, Couve said, but without success.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF1341. Secret. Drafted by Stoessel and approved by Stimpson on July 23. In addition to the Summit meeting the Foreign Ministers also discussed Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt. Memoranda of conversation for these topics, US/MC/138, 139, and 142, are ibid.
  2. President Heuss made a State visit to the United Kingdom beginning October 20, 1958.