381. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France0

1546. Embassies of NATO countries briefed on Kennedy-Macmillan talks yesterday1 by Kohler and Sir Frederick Hoyer Millar. Summary [Page 1036] as presented below has concurrence of British Embassy here. US and UK Reps should coordinate presentation to NAC at April 12 meeting.


Nature of Meetings. Discussions were informal with no intention of reaching decisions. Discussions were regarded by both sides as useful opportunity to have first exchange of views at highest level on all common problems. Regarded as part of process of exchanging views among allies which is expected as in past to be continuing process.

Dominant theme was need for strengthening unity of West politically, militarily, and economically. General thesis from US point of view was set forth in Vice President Johnson’s speech to SHAPE April 62 which Kohler commended for reading by all concerned. British were in substantial agreement with this thesis.


Economic Problems. Reference was made to efforts now going on in IMF to consider expansion of its scope and increase its effectiveness. It was agreed that US and UK Reps at these discussions should pursue their efforts in this direction. Ways should be found to ease position of member governments encountering international payments deficits.

President brought up problems involved in renewal reciprocal trade agreements act which is necessary for US to play its generally desired role in international trade field. While depending partly on domestic economic situation prospects will be improved considerably if at time of renewal there is no dollar discrimination on part of any of our allies. President asked UK to be helpful in this connection on a few specific items which British are prepared to examine sympathetically. Kohler invited similar action where indicated on part of other allies.

On aid to underdeveloped countries, US cited its determination make OECD effective means for unity in Atlantic Community and for aid to underdeveloped countries. British welcomed this and indicated that they for their own part are prepared to help in developing OECD and DAG. US pointed to strong delegation we are sending to economic policy committee. Both sides hope OECD will deal in future with problems involved in marketing products of underdeveloped areas. Also agreed necessary study methods promote development of production in such areas with ready markets in West not competitive with our own products, such as textiles. With regard to Sixes and Sevens Kohler indicated we must move to solution of problem under OECD umbrella, and move toward ever increasing economic unity of Atlantic Community.

UK comment on this subject was that West must maximize its international trade. No reason why we should not be able to more than hold our own in relation to communist offensive, but can only do so by more [Page 1037] cohesion economic as well as political and military. However, must work specific problems out properly. UK particularly wishes to be helpful in getting US Government over strain involved in renewal reciprocal trade agreements act.


NATO. Kohler alluded to review of NATO within US Government and made reference to general preliminary remarks made on this subject by Ambassador Finletter to NAC. Indicated that generally speaking we are concluding that political consultation should be very considerably strengthened, that all members should be ready discuss problems affecting NATO even if beyond geographic scope and even if differences of view exist. Likely that US will suggest to Council a few procedural improvements, perhaps (1) select committees of NAC which could examine problems prior to full discussion in Council, and (2) small outside “wise men’s” group on a continuing basis, point he thought UK did not necessarily accept. UK commented that they entirely agreed with US viewpoint that NATO consultation of basic importance. Kohler indicated in reply to question that our suggestions in this field may be made before end of April to contribute to meaningful discussion at Oslo and expressed hope other members would similarly be making their suggestions with such discussions in mind. Kohler pointed out that while being specific, we do not intend to be dogmatic with regard these detailed suggestions and wish stimulate discussions toward agreed decisions.

On military side our review indicates basically that strategic doctrine and political directive3 do not need change but rather some interpretation which is part of continuing process. We have strong feeling that alliance is really lagging with regard to conventional forces, that serious steps should be taken to reach presently planned goals both quantitatively and qualitatively in order to raise threshold and be able force significant pause before employment nuclear weapons. This should probably be first priority effort. Our review has led to conclusion that to degree not generally realized NATO has already become very much a nuclear power. We believe it important to maintain effective nuclear deterrent in NATO forces. Can be anticipated that when US Government has officially concluded review it will be made clear that nuclear weapons will remain in Europe for NATO purposes.

With respect to MRBMs this problem still being pursued. Can be expected that Polaris submarines will be committed to NATO in accordance with needs. Interested in hearing views of NATO allies on this subject.

[Page 1038]

UK commented that much of discussion on this topic between President and Prime Minister was exposition of US thinking. Reference was made to UK proposal for strategy review. UK much interested in US current thinking but made no particular comment since whole subject soon to be thrashed but in NATO.


United Nations. Full agreement reached on dangers current Soviet campaign against SYG and structure of UN as well as attempt also introduce “three-part” world formula into other organizations, thus obtaining built-in Soviet veto. Touched on question Congo, especially financing of UN Congo operations. Also considered colonial issue as handled in UN. On UK side agreement expressed with constructive Western approach to self-determination, but allusion made to dangers of certain types of resolutions, such as those setting target dates for independence, that might prejudice orderly development. Was agreed that while Allies might sometimes diverge on this issue (might at times be a good thing) should make every effort cooperate re such resolutions to fullest extent possible.

UK commented, on this subject, that PM had said all colonial powers faced with particular problem of timing grant of independence to multi-racial communities, to assure protection minority rights. UK fundamentally anxious be left alone by UN to work out what it thinks best. Glad to see US appreciates UK point of view on this. Want sympathetic understanding and continuing close cooperation between all Western delegations to UN. Don’t wish find ourselves in public disagreement merely because of failure make best possible effort at consultation.

Re China, differences of approach acknowledged, since UK recognizes ChiCom, US does not. President pointed to seriousness question of ChiCom admission UN from US viewpoint, since this a prime issue here politically. Essential that matter not merely be handled as credentials question pure and simple, but important underlying questions should be faced. While we recognize that moratorium may no longer be effective procedure, should avoid situation where would be an unthinking substitution of ChiComs for ChiNats. Such eventuality would be great setback for US cooperation generally through UN and otherwise.

UK in course discussion this point first put record straight. Not pressing for Red China in UN or abandonment Formosa. Would rather like help find way out of impasse, and work with US to devise workable course of action. Would at least wish to agree with US on a solution which would have effect of putting Communists in the wrong.

East-West Issues. Meetings provided opportunity new US administration explain its basic attitude, cite efforts introduce atmosphere of calm and civility, while having no illusions as to what we can expect from Soviet side. Have therefore made effort remove specific minor obstacles in bilateral relations, as already reported to NAC. Was agreed by [Page 1039] President and PM that Soviet position on various current issues presents little basis for optimism, and in some ways ominous, as re nuclear test conference. Agreed in latter connection US and UK Dels should continue push hard for Soviet reaction to our proposals, so if break comes responsibility will be clear.
Berlin. Agreed that two governments, and all NATO, have vital interest in Berlin. Is real danger may be faced with crisis this year, prior to October Party Congress, or timed in connection German elections. Consequently agreed we should now review in tripartite and quadripartite groups, for subsequent customary report to NAC, status contingency planning, which should be firmed up. Should also review various negotiating positions, make sure we have our house in order. UK commented that it has no evidence of imminent Soviet action re Berlin, but should take seriously possibility of Soviet action and be prepared. No reason to be either alarmist or complacent.

Soviet-ChiCom Relations. Joint feeling that Khrushchev and Mao agree on objectives but have some disagreement on modalities, with result some pressure on former to be more militant. Situation inside China, notably agricultural difficulties bears watching.

In conclusion, UK commented that PM feels is great opportunity for new US administration, with young President, to take lead and give impetus to greater Atlantic cooperation. UK would for its part be happy see such lead by US.

In reply to question, Kohler pointed out US conclusions its review NATO policies may be presented to NAC piecemeal, some hopefully before end April. While no big decisions expected at Oslo, we hope for meaningful discussion, and perhaps directive by Ministers to NAC re study certain questions.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.41/4–861. Secret; Niact. Drafted in RA on April 7 and cleared in draft with Kohler and Bundy. Repeated to the other NATO capitals and Moscow.
  2. Macmillan visited Washington April 4–9. Memoranda of his conversations with President Kennedy on various subjects and memoranda of Foreign Secretary Home’s conversations with Rusk, together with briefing papers, agendas for the meetings, and supporting documentation are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CF1832–1833, and Central File 611.41. For memoranda on their discussion of European economic integration and NATO strategy, see Supplement. For Macmillan’s account of the meeting, see Pointing the Way, pp. 348–352.
  3. The text is in the Johnson Library, Statements File, Box 52.
  4. Regarding the Political Directive of December 14, 1956, see Polto 14, December 14, 1956, Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. IV, pp. 149156.