219. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

4243. For Secretary and McCloy from Under Secretary Rostow.

After day’s discussions with British Ministers and officials ending in meetings with Callaghan2 alone and then with Wilson and Callaghan together in which all points in three messages between President and Prime Minister3 were intensively canvassed, Prime Minister authorized me to tell you that he accepts the President’s proposal ad referendum to the Cabinet on the understanding (a) that “concert” means we move together but does not give us a veto, and (b) that Britain is now committing itself to a delay of about six months. Beyond that point Wilson insists that Britain would not settle for anything less than full coverage of its exchange costs in Germany. Wilson expressed hope US procurement would not be for petroleum—with its high import content—and Callaghan urged us if possible to put orders that would create employment in Britain.
I made clear US cannot promise that trilateral talks will come out with recommendation for troop and stock withdrawals. I expressed hope we could wind up the trilaterals within six months, but said that difficulties inherent in the talks made a strict timetable impossible. I warned Wilson it might be damaging or impossible to insist on 100 percent coverage.
Wilson said he could go ahead on this basis and would reply to President after Cabinet decision. We agreed this arrangement should be kept secret for present. US and UK should work out time and mode of announcement, which could well be made at NATO Ministerial Meeting next month.
Callaghan particularly helpful in final discussions.
Report on meeting with PM and Callaghan follows in separate cable.4
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 4 NATO. Secret; Nodis. The source text bears no time of transmission; the telegram was received at 8:08 a.m.
  2. James Callaghan, British Minister of Finance and member of the Privy Council.
  3. The three messages are Document 216 and an exchange of messages on November 18 and 19. In his November 18 message, Wilson thanked the President for his offer of $35 million and suggested that since Rostow was visiting London the next week, he might be used to iron out the details. (Department of State, Bruce Diaries: Lot 64 D 327) In his November 19 letter, President Johnson agreed to having Rostow discuss the problem, but reminded the Prime Minister that any arrangement would have to be approved by Congress. (Ibid.)
  4. The detailed report was transmitted in telegram 4272 from London, November 22. (Ibid., Central Files, FN 12 GER W)