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

Secto 69. Eyes only Acting Secretary. Bear in mind that Secto 241 was uncleared memcon and indicated that I had “drawn on” certain points in telegram in discussing question. Further, telegram standing naked and alone does not contain other information affecting atmosphere which I had not planned to put in cable traffic.

In view President’s reference to hope I could visit Adenauer on return from NATO, a suggestion which I could not fit with commitments present trip, I responded positively to Schroeder’s hope that I could come to Bonn some time in June if schedule permits. I also had friendly talk with Couve de Murville suggesting that we arrange for tour d’horizon on bilateral basis beginning with Alphand and possibly topped off with a visit by me to Paris. Thus Paris and Bonn could be covered same time with, hopefully, a few days vacation and acceptance Oxford honorary degree.

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Couve and I agreed that there are major elements of agreement between our two governments and that, in his words, “differences are largely of a tactical and procedural nature.” I told him that our tour d’horizon ought to cover policies toward NATO, UN and other points where divergencies have appeared.

It has been obvious at this NATO meeting that Couve has tried to be as helpful as possible and that he understands we are trying to move same direction. Examples are our willingness forego any reference nuclear testing in NATO communiqué2 to meet his view, and his care in handling press despite certain stories which exaggerated extent of agreement on Berlin procedures. Incidentally, we understand he was quite upset about remarks his own Defense Minister in commenting on McNamara speech.3

Must emphasize that points mentioned in Secto 24 are additional to basis of US policy on nuclear sharing with anyone. McNamara’s speech to NATO made elemental basis of policy quite clear. I am getting out supplementary comments for those receiving Secto 23 to put matter into better perspective.4

Finally, I did not use materials Secto 24 as systematic attack on France in conversations with Schroeder or Green but as passing references to difficulties we find with French policy in self-imposed isolation from important tasks Alliance. Nor did I pursue these matters with other Foreign Ministers except Home and, to limited extent, with Spaak. Spaak is somewhat nervous lest we seem to support French attitude within Six and in NATO.

My own view is that we must press our problems with France through systematic, careful and sympathetic bilateral talks to see how far we can go within limits permitted by De Gaulle. We should not assume that Algerian settlement should make him more intransigent but should assume the opposite for purposes of full exploration. Pompidou as more man of the world than Debre could have constructive influence (obviously Couve thinks so). However, in view my conversations with Couve, I doubt that any trickling back which might occur would be interpreted as deliberate backbiting.

Please show the President this telegram.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.5611/5–662. Secret: Priority; No Other Distribution.
  2. Document 245.
  3. For text of the NATO communiqué, May 6, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, pp. 541–542.
  4. A copy of McNamara’s speech on defense policy is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 533, CF 2101.
  5. Transmitted in Secto 80 from Athens, May 6. (Ibid., CF 2104)
  6. On May 13 Rusk called Alphand and reviewed his conversation with Couve de Murville. The Secretary of State suggested that the bilateral talks begin in Washington, and Alphand agreed to cable Couve for clearance. (Ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 92, Telephone Conversations)