103. Memorandum of Conversation0



New York, September 14–20, 1958


  • US
    • The Secretary of State
    • William Rountree1
    • Frederick Reinhardt
  • UK
    • Foreign Secretary SELWYN LLOYD
    • Mr. Howard Beeley
    • Mr. Denis Laskey


  • Formosa

Mr. Lloyd expressed interest in the Secretary’s reference to elimination of provocations in his speech before the General Assembly.2 The Secretary explained that as far as the US was concerned we would be willing to see the offshore islands completely demilitarized provided the “naked [Page 217] title”, so to speak, remained in Nationalist hands. This would in addition involve the elimination of such intelligence and propaganda activity as had in the past been mounted there against the mainland. One could not make the islands a privileged sanctuary. The problem was, of course, whether the Generalissimo could be induced to agree. The situation on Formosa was highly charged and we were not certain we could sit on the lid.

Mr. Lloyd asked whether we had in mind bombing Communist gun emplacements. The Secretary replied that we did not for the present. The supply situation had been improved somewhat in recent days and had not reached a critical stage. He thought we had at least two weeks time, but if it did become critical, the idea would be for the Chinese Nationalists initially to undertake such an operation and then for us to follow up if necessary.

Concerning a possible reference to the problem of the UN, the Secretary said we might possibly go first to the Security Council as a matter of form but one clearly could not get anything there. In the General Assembly, on the other hand, it might be possible to get some kind of resolution calling for tranquillity in the area and a peaceful settlement. This would, however, presumably have no effect on the Chinese Communists.

Mr. Lloyd asked whether we had thought of raising the level of our conversations with the Chinese Communists since they might conceivably be willing to give more in such talks. The Secretary replied he had been somewhat surprised that the Chinese Communists had not themselves insisted on higher level talks, but he doubted that they would be any more productive. He also was interested in the fact that the Soviets, as far as he was aware, had made no mention of the Warsaw talks and that Gromyko, in his speech today, put all the emphasis on Formosa itself.

The Secretary, referring to the broad aspects of the problem, pointed out that one could not ignore the fact that if we did something in the face of Soviet and Communist Chinese threats that made us appear to be backing down, we would be finished throughout the area. The situation in Asia was so fragile and feeble that we could not afford to do anything that looked like capitulation.

Mr. Lloyd said he had had a long talk with the Japanese Foreign Minister who wanted to exchange views and who seemed quite sound. The Japanese wanted to find some long term means of conditioning the people in the area so that a minor straightening of the line would not have such dangerous repercussions. The Secretary observed that you had to bear in mind what you could do in Taiwan. The situation would be terrible if it blew up in our face. We were having a difficult time there. The Secretary did not mind if the Warsaw talks produced a prolonged back and forth if under their cover some progress could be accomplished.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 1107. Secret. Drafted by Reinhardt. The meeting was held at the Waldorf Towers.
  2. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs William M. Rountree.
  3. In his September 18 address, Dulles stated in part:

    “We hope that a peaceful solution can be found. Talks are going on between the United States and Chinese Communist Ambassadors in Warsaw. We seek a prompt cease-fire and equitable conditions which will eliminate provocations and leave for peaceful resolution the different claims and counterclaims that are involved.”

    For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, pp. 122–130.