54. Telegram From Secretary of State Herter to the Department of State0

Cahto 13. Eyes Only for Ambassador. Following is based on interpreter’s summary of first meeting of President alone with De Gaulle, [Page 137] Adenauer and Macmillan. Meeting was held at Elysee morning December 19 and lasted about one hour and a half:1

Four agreed on need for summit meeting and that Western Powers should extend invitation to Soviets. There was discussion as to whether any agenda items should be mentioned in invitation. President proposed merely “disarmament and related questions”. There was some feeling on part of de Gaulle and Adenauer that specific mention should be made of Germany. This was not finally settled and it was left that staffs would look into matter further. There was discussion along lines that following subjects could well be brought up: 1. Aid to underdeveloped nations; 2. Germany, and more specifically Berlin. There was general agreement Western Powers should attempt coordinate positions before going to summit and that there should be meeting of four Western Powers immediately prior to summit. Also, it was agreed Western Powers concerned should attempt work out something in ten-power disarmament committee and develop common position therein which would enable them to be in better position to face Khrushchev.

Discussion timing conference then ensued. After some discussion De Gaulle indicated he would like come to U.S. prior to summit meeting. April 19–22 were indicated as probable dates for De Gaulle visit to U.S. President said he would attempt have King of Nepal’s visit moved up to April 22–23. Summit conference would then be held on April 27–May 1. Macmillan said he could even continue on May 2 but not beyond as he had Commonwealth Prime Ministers meeting May 3–14. All parties agreed Soviets should know there would be fixed termination date for conference. De Gaulle said he would have liked to have summit conference in May, while Mr. Macmillan would have preferred mid-April. Subject to checking, there was general agreement on April 27–May 1 and it was also agreed there would be a Western summit April 26.

Discussion then centered around place of summit meeting. Macmillan spoke in favor of Paris, but with understanding there would be other summit meetings and place might have to rotate. If it was felt summit meeting in Moscow at a later date would present insurmountable problems, then we should fall back on Geneva. President indicated he had no strong feeling one way or the other. Adenauer stated that this was not a concern of his. It was decided to have staff explore feasibility proposing Paris now and holding meetings in Moscow, Washington and London later. If this proved impractical, Geneva would be the answer.

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Matter of Germany and Berlin was then taken up. President said he felt we must study situation to see what could be done if Soviets attempted to starve out Berlin while technically respecting our right of access to our garrisons there. Chancellor became quite emotional and stated that Berlin was a symbol and yielding there would have fatal results for West. There was exchange of views on this subject. President, who stated he was not considering our legal rights in Berlin but merely wished to study what could be done practically if Soviets, while respecting letter of agreements, created difficulties for the livelihood of the Berliners. President was not able obtain specific reply from Chancellor on this point.

It was agreed all these matters would be discussed further in plenary meeting in afternoon.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1/12–2259. Secret. Received December 22 at 3:11 a.m. Repeated to London, Bonn, and Moscow.
  2. Two more extensive records of the meeting are ibid., EUR/SOV Files: Lot 64 D 291, Germany, and ibid., Central Files, 396.1/1–760. For accounts by the participants in this and the following sessions, see Adenauer, Erinnerungen, 1959–1963, pp. 23–28; Macmillan, Pointing the Way, pp. 101–115; De Gaulle, Mémoires, pp. 234–237; Eisenhower, Waging Peace, pp. 508–509; and Walters, Silent Missions, p. 304.