60. Telegram From Secretary of State Herter to the Department of State 0

Cahto 18. Eyes Only for Ambassadors. Following is summary of half hour Four Power plenary at Elysee 10:30 a.m., Dec. 21:1

De Gaulle opened by saying discussions had gone very expeditiously and there apparently remained very little to be discussed. He [Page 152] would summarize results of talks to date. Four Heads of State or Government considered that danger of the Communist menace is as great as it has ever been. However, they agreed that note should be taken of pronouncements of Khrushchev relating to relaxation of tensions and peaceful coexistence. For this reason they agreed meet with him. As to substance Four had discussed Germany and had decided their positions should be very reserved, especially re Berlin; West must not do anything that would result in Berlin’s falling into hands of Soviets. In this respect positions taken by four Foreign Ministers at Geneva still valid. In summary, as far as German problems concerned, it felt that new approach to solution would be possible only after there had been a relaxation of international tension. In any case four Heads of State or Government had no great expectations as to what might be accomplished at forthcoming summit meeting re German problem.

Re disarmament principals had agreed that Five Powers should start work in near future. They had taken note of British proposals, also of proposals put forward by French for control of missiles and delivery systems.2 On this score too, they had no illusions as to any great progress being made.

Four principals had taken note of Adenauer’s idea diverting savings which might be accomplished from disarmament for aid to underdeveloped countries. It agreed that question of aid to underdeveloped countries was very important matter. Principals decided study ideas put forward by United States on this subject. In meeting with Khrushchev, they decided to study possibility of putting forward concrete proposals to him such as development of Nile and cooperation in field public health.

Four principals also recognized need to study relationships between European organizations and other principal trading countries and for this purpose agreed discussions should take place between selected countries already members of OEEC, as well as United States, Canada and Japan.

President said De Gaulle had given admirable summation of discussions.

Macmillan agreed with President’s approval of summations but said he wanted to sound note of caution re question of linking disarmament economies and aid to underdeveloped countries. He agreed these matters should be studied. However, study of possible proposals to be [Page 153] made to Khrushchev such as development of Nile should be handled very cautiously. Leaks that such matters were under consideration could cause considerable difficulties.

De Gaulle agreed that care was necessary and studies re aid to underdeveloped countries should be conducted with discretion. Much would depend in this connection on atmosphere surrounding East-West summit. If it proved propitious make proposals to Khrushchev, it was quite soon enough announce them after they had been put forward at summit.

De Gaulle said it remained only to express to President views of others as to how valuable his good will visits to various countries had been in support of Western cause. In this connection he mentioned names of all countries the President had visited to date and expressed certainly his forthcoming visits to Spain and Morocco3 would also be very useful.

President said that one particular thought had become imbedded in his mind during his trip. This was the anxiety of great populations of the countries he had visited not only to achieve a peaceful life and some rise in living standards, but even more to live in freedom. Signs had greeted him everywhere proclaiming “peace with freedom” indicating that, without freedom, other things had little value. This feeling reflected basic ideals of West. If Western leaders were intelligent these populations would turn to US. He would suggest Western leaders travel to those countries not for purposes undertaking negotiations or conducting business but to show our interest in their lives and their freedom. He realized from his own experience that this could be burdensome, but he was sure it was helpful. Obviously such travels should be undertaken within reason, but at least frequently enough to remind populations of underdeveloped countries of our interest in them. De Gaulle expressed appreciation for President’s statement and said he had taken note of suggestion. He repeated how useful he considered President’s travel had been but mentioned in this connection: “Of course you are strong— that doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Macmillan said he wanted to raise a practical point. He assumed Western notes delivered to the Soviets this morning by Ambassadors in Moscow.4 Possible that date proposed for East-West summit meeting might be agreeable to Khrushchev. To avoid a lot of later consultations between various capitals, he would suggest fall back date be fixed which acceptable to Western Heads of State or Government.

[Page 154]

President said he had discussed this with Macmillan earlier this morning5 and agreed his suggestion. He had reviewed his own forward engagements and found it would be possible to meet about May 15, following termination of Macmillan’s commonwealth conference.

De Gaulle indicated suggested date in May would please him since it would allow him make more leisurely visit to United States.

Adenauer indicated that while he not particularly involved he believed that once date for East-West summit settled, be possible adjust other dates of lesser importance to this.

The meeting concluded with President, Macmillan and Adenauer expressing thanks to De Gaulle for hospitality and able conduct of the discussions.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–PA/12–2259. Secret. Transmitted in two sections. Repeated to Bonn and London.
  2. A memorandum of the conversation at the meeting (US/MC/18) is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1569.
  3. The British and French proposals under reference here have not been identified further. The Foreign Ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, and Italy met at the Quai d’Orsay 3:15–4:40 p.m., December 21, to confirm these decisions and to adopt plans for the future discussion of disarmament in preparation for a summit meeting. (US/MC/12; ibid.)
  4. The President visited Spain December 21–22 and Morocco December 22.
  5. See Document 61.
  6. While there is no record of Macmillan meeting with the President during the morning of December 21, the U.S. Delegation chronology for December 20 shows that they breakfasted together at the U.S. Embassy on that day. Presumably this is the time at which the subject was discussed. (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1577)