119. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Missions0

1135. In conjunction final communiqué,1 following is guidance for use in briefing governments as well as SEATO and CENTO on NATO Ministerial Meeting in Paris December 13–15:

Paris meeting provided valuable opportunity for NATO members to engage in thorough and candid review of political, economic and military problems facing Alliance in light of continued worldwide Communist threat to freedom. Meeting focussed in particular on special problems arising out of Berlin crisis, contemporary Congo situation, NATO military strategy, and progress of allied military buildup to meet Soviet-induced Berlin crisis.
Presence at Paris meeting of Defense Ministers of NATO countries gave Secretary McNamara an occasion to explain US Administration’s views on basic NATO military strategy in light of assessment Soviet military strength and capabilities. Secretary Rusk, on basis Secretary McNamara’s presentation, summarized US views on far-reaching political implications which should be drawn from assessment Soviet military strength.
In connection with Berlin and Congo, Ministerial discussion was frank and vigorous and highlighted differing viewpoints within the Alliance. Frank exploration of these differences, however, only helped to underline essential vitality of NATO Alliance and its ability successfully to engage in political consultation on controversial issues.
During discussion Berlin question, Secretary Rusk emphasized that Atlantic Community stronger now than year ago both in terms of military and economic strength and political consultation. However, Berlin crisis and other critical spots throughout world underline fact that none of current problems could be treated in isolation. All must be viewed in context of Sino-Soviet program of world revolution backed by resources from Communist bloc.
Secretary said Soviet pressure on Berlin continued unabated. There had been no significant substantive changes in Soviet position although certain procedural improvements had emerged as result discussions with Gromyko. Alliance must be firm and determined in defense [Page 343] of West Berlin. This firmness of West was in interest of peace because chances of war enhanced when each side thinks other will not fight. At same time, Secretary said that it is important to keep in touch with other side to prevent crisis from developing too far and to avoid miscalculations. Consequently, Alliance should be ready through responsible contacts with Soviets to search for peaceful solutions.
General opinion within Council was strongly in agreement with US viewpoint regarding Berlin although well-known attitude of France renegotiations was re-affirmed. Paragraph 8 of communiqué represents compromise language which would permit resumption of diplomatic contacts with USSR.2
As communiqué indicated, Minister considered that USSR’s action in constructing wall in Berlin, in brazen disregard its obligations, demonstrated essential nature of Communist system and irresistible attraction of free society. Ministers again emphasized their determination to protect and defend basic liberties of West Berlin despite any future Soviet signature on so-called “peace treaty” with puppet East German regime.
During Council’s general review of international situation, developments in Middle East, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa were discussed. Re Congo, detailed exchange reflected already familiar differences of view among NATO members. Secretary described situation in Southeast Asia and Latin America, explaining nature of increased US assistance to South Vietnam and developments in Cuba and Dominican Republic. (FYI. Secretary asked Ministers to study how their governments could associate themselves with US in meeting threats to Western positions in these areas. End FYI.) He also informed Council that although US decision to liberalize its trade policies might provoke “Great Debate” in US, President Kennedy believed issue must be faced squarely instead of simply attempting to extend anachronistic trade legislation.
In course of Ministers’ discussion of military questions, Secretary strongly reaffirmed that defense of Europe and North America was indivisible. To underscore inseparability of these two areas, US prepared to join with its Allies in considering: (a) greater NATO collective participation in basic decisions on nuclear policy and (b) creation of NATO MRBM forces. While emphasizing present superiority of American nuclear strength, Secretary urged Allies to continue to reinforce their combat-ready conventional forces.
In connection military buildup, Ministers reviewed improvements which had been made by member countries in their force contributions in response to the enhanced military threat arising from the Berlin situation. They observed that state of readiness has been improved, units reinforced and mobile task force established. At same time, in view continual aggressive intent of USSR and its unwillingness consider genuine disarmament, it was recognized that NATO Alliance faced no alternative except to further strengthen its forces and modernize its equipment.
During consideration economic questions, Council noted that since Oslo meeting Special Mission had been created to look into the economic problems of Greece and Turkey. This mission will report to the Council before end of April 1962.
As reflected in communiqué, there was reaffirmation of belief of NATO member countries that, in view of their stronger economic base, they should continue to cooperate closely on methods of providing expanded aid to developing countries of world.
For Ankara and Bangkok: CENTO and SEATO briefings should be coordinated with your NATO colleagues.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–PA/12–1961. Confidential. Drafted by Van Hollen (EUR/RA), cleared with Hillenbrand and the Department of Defense, and approved by Kohler. Sent to 54 missions.
  2. For text of the communiqué, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pp. 505–508.
  3. The language in the communiqué about negotiations with the Soviet Union on Berlin had been the subject of much discussion, first among the Quadripartite Foreign Ministers on December 11 and 12 and then at the North Atlantic Council on December 15. The language originally drafted by the four Foreign Ministers had not been approved by de Gaulle, and only a telephone call from Kennedy to the French President on December 12 had achieved a minor language change. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, France) In the discussion of the communiqué on December 15 Spaak stated that the fourpower language appeared not to advance the Berlin question at all and argued for negotiations at the earliest moment. Protracted discussions with intermissions in the meeting finally achieved the language for paragraph 8 that appeared in the final communiqué. The U.S. Delegation commented that this was the most difficult communiqué drafting session in recent years, and that only the need to project the unity of the Alliance had saved the division over the communiqué from being forced into the open. (Polto Circular 76, December 16; Department of State, Central Files, 375/12–1661)