234. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State0

Secto 36. Eyes only for the President. At dinner this evening with Lord Home and Couve de Murville alone we had good discussion of Tripartite consultative machinery. I expressed your keen interest in improving such consultation, along the lines of your discussion with General de Gaulle, but also emphasized the need for discretion in order not to stimulate bad feelings from other countries both within and outside NATO. Couve expressed a complete understanding of problem of discretion and stated that both the Italians and Germans had already registered with him their sharp reaction to the rumors they had already picked up on the subject. I asked Couve frankly whether the General’s interest in tripartite consultation was primarily to obtain greater harmony of policy or whether his purposes depended upon making the existence of such consultations generally known. He smiled but did not reply directly but simply reaffirmed their understanding of need for discretion.

I then proposed that we arrange more effective consultation within framework of existing machinery which could provide adequate cover. I suggested that British and French Ambassadors in Washington meet regularly with Secretary or appropriate deputy and that there be someone designated from one of three governments to serve as a secretary. I then proposed that, for military discussions, French and UK insure that they have on NATO Standing Group officers who would have their complete confidence who could be drawn aside by the tripartite political group for discussion of strategic problems beyond NATO.

Couve accepted with alacrity but I am not at all sure that this will fully satisfy General de Gaulle. Lord Home went along graciously in order to accommodate US and France but I have no doubt that he would not consider this arrangement an adequate substitute for our bilateral relationship. In view of fact that all three governments will be in continuous contact over next several months because of Berlin and other problems, I believe that this is as far as we should now go about consultative machinery. At Foreign Minister level I am convinced this is entirely adequate but there may be special problems upstairs which we shall have to deal with if they are raised. In any event, I believe we have made a reasonable response to your conversation with General de Gaulle.1

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CF1943. Secret. Drafted by Rusk who was in Paris August 4–9.
  2. On August 23 Alphand, who was in Paris for consultations, discussed the French position on tripartitism with de Gaulle. An account of this meeting is in Hervé Alphand, L’etonnement d’etre, Paris, 1977, p. 366.