71. Memorandum of Conference With President Eisenhower 0


  • Secretary Dulles
  • Secretary Anderson
  • Secretary McElroy
  • General Twining
  • Governor Hoegh
  • General Cabell
  • Mr. George Allen
  • Mr. Harlow
  • Major Eisenhower
  • General Goodpaster

The purpose of the meeting was to consider the situation in the Formosa Straits area, and the various actions and positions that had been taken, or should be considered. The statement by Premier Chou En-lai, [Page 143] made public earlier that morning,2 was the focus of a good deal of the discussion. The Secretary of State showed the President and the group a draft of a possible statement by the President commenting on Chou En-lai’s statement.3 Various of those present suggested modifications and additions. The President in particular said he wanted to add something in the way of a concrete and definite acceptance of Chou En-lai’s offer to negotiate—he thought that would have a strong effect in enabling us to take initiative in this matter. Following the luncheon the President met with Secretary Dulles and Mr. Hagerty to put the statement into final shape.4

General Twining then handed to the President a copy of a proposal for the President to assign certain authorities to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for emergency action in case of attack of Taiwan and/or the offshore islands.5 The paper as drafted would have given the Chiefs authority to approve U.S. air support, if necessary, of Chinat air forces authorized to strike enemy forces and mainland targets in event of a major landing attack on offshore islands. The President recalled that the Chiefs had estimated such U.S. air support would not be required unless Chicom air forces attack en masse in support of land operations, and that there would be time for his decision in such case. Accordingly, he prescribed that U.S. air attack against mainland targets could be ordered only upon his approval. He approved the provisions of the paper as thus modified.

In the course of the discussion General Twining reported on the plans and orders that had been given for movement of resupply ships under escort to the Quemoys, and as to the logistical situation.

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Top Secret. Prepared by Goodpaster on September 8. The meeting was held during lunch at the White House.
  2. Individuals not previously identified are George V. Allen, Director of the U.S. Information Agency; Bryce N. Harlow, Administrative Assistant to the President; and Major John S.D. Eisenhower of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations.
  3. It reads in part as follows: “To make a further effort to safeguard peace, the Chinese Government is prepared to resume the ambassadorial talks between the two countries.” Text of the statement, released by the New China News Agency on September 6, is in Documents on International Affairs, 1958 (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), pp. 179–182.
  4. A copy of the draft statement with the President’s handwritten revisions is in the Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Meetings with the President; see Supplement.
  5. The statement released by the White House on September 6 stated in part: “The United States Ambassador at Warsaw stands ready promptly to meet with the Chinese Communist Ambassador there, who has previously acted in this matter.” For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, pp. 1148–1149.
  6. The paper was headed “Discussion Paper.” A copy with the President’s handwritten revisions is in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Miscellaneous Series; see Supplement. Twining sent a copy of the revised paper to the other Joint Chiefs with a covering memorandum of September 15; see Supplement.