27. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France0

1651. Following is text of message from the President for delivery to General De Gaulle. Advise date time delivery.

“October 16, 1959.

Dear General De Gaulle: I am glad to have your views on the summit meeting as contained in your letter of October 81 and you will have had also an opportunity to study our conclusions as stated in my letter of October 92 which crossed yours. I think our views are essentially very close. My own feeling is that we owe it to the free world and to ourselves to take every opportunity to explore further the attitude of the Soviets. However, I feel strongly that we cannot do this until we know that we have a concerted point of view among ourselves, and I know from your October 8 letter that you agree with the need for close coordination of the Western views.

I personally continue to believe that my recent exchanges of views with Mr. Khrushchev, while I repeat they have not led thus far to substantive changes of positions on the part of the Soviets, have caused a slight thawing of the international freeze. I think that we have achieved a certain momentum. I agree with your conclusions that it is too early to assume that the Soviets will in fact make concessions; however, I likewise conclude that we should probably have a better chance of getting something from Khrushchev if we do not permit him to disengage from conversations with us for too long a period of time.

One reason that I regard an early meeting with you, Mr. Macmillan and the Chancellor desirable is the fact that I am convinced we wish to be certain our evaluations of the possibility of reaching a modus vivendi on Berlin (to which we should give priority consideration) with the Soviets at a summit meeting are the same. It seems to me that when the Foreign Ministers adjourned their sessions at Geneva in August there [Page 74] was still a wide gulf between us and the Russians. I agree that the elements of an agreement and the position of the two sides were clearly revealed. On some of the less important elements of our positions there was a varying measure of agreement. But on the vital question of where we would stand with respect to our rights at the end of the period we made no progress at all in spite of heroic efforts by the Western Ministers. I do not think we should underestimate the difficulties with which we are likely to be confronted when we take up this thorny subject again in a formal negotiation, and I believe you fully concur in this view.

Another point on which we must reach agreement among ourselves revolves around the problem of dealing with suggestions that the summit meeting should include representation of countries other than the four which met at Geneva in 1955. Since the subject of disarmament is almost certain to come up, the other side will very likely propose the admission of other participants in our meeting, citing the precedent of our acceptance of the Committee of Ten for Disarmament. The Soviets can in any event be expected to raise the question of East German participation. I think we must make every effort to keep the meeting on a Four Power basis as we did at the Summit conference in Geneva in 1955.

Both the question of what we would talk about at a summit meeting and the possible differences as to the desirability, composition and dates indicate to me that we—you, Mr. Macmillan, Chancellor Adenauer and myself—must get together at the Heads of Government level at the earliest possible moment. I have reviewed my own schedule and find that with some readjustment I could free myself for the purpose for a few days in Europe at the end of this month. Paris would seem to me to be the logical place to meet in light of the difficulty which you would presumably find in visiting either London or Washington in advance of your state visits. For my part Paris would be entirely acceptable. I stress that I would envisage such a meeting as involving no ceremonies, no social affairs, and devoted purely to business. Under these circumstances, I hope such a meeting would not impose an undue burden on you.

With the pressure of time under which we are laboring I have asked Secretary Herter to take this matter up at once with Ambassador Alphand and with the British and West German Ambassadors as well. If you agree in principle, I think we can leave the arrangements to be worked out by them through diplomatic channels.

With warm regard,

Sincerely, Dwight D. Eisenhower.”

Observe Presidential Handling.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1/10–1659. Secret; Priority; Presidential Handling. Drafted in EUR, cleared by Goodpaster and in draft by Herter, and approved by McElhiney.

    Similar messages were also sent to Bonn and London for delivery to Adenauer and Macmillan. Copies of these messages are ibid., 396.1/10–1659 and 611.62A/10–1659. During the afternoon of October 16, Herter held conversations with Caccia, Alphand, and Krapf; read them the texts of the letters; and briefly discussed what they expected their governments’ reactions would be to them. Memoranda of these conversations are ibid., 396.1–PA/10–1659 (Caccia and Alphand) and 711.11–EI/10–1659.

  2. See footnote 3, Document 24.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 24.