US proposal for meeting - Ratification and four power meeting

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US proposal for meeting - Ratification and four power meeting

P.M.

V. important - & urgent because E. will want to announce before Fr. debate starting 21/3.

A.E.

Origin : D.'s feeling tht., if Fr. dallied, we wd. have to do somethg. favouring G. - e.g. give them rights by 10th. anniversary of V.E. Day. Purpose : to secure ratification by France : not really to lead to 4 Power Mtg. Difficulties: i) V.E. Day is awkward day for G. ii) More important - : effect on R. If announced now, R. are bound to re-act publicly. Risk tht. they will say, if Fr. ratify, we shan't come to a Conference. That wd. cause some Fr. senators to recur to idea of Conference before ratification. We shd. put that considn. to U.S. iii) If real purpose was prelimy. to 4 Power, I wd. favour it - but wd. announce & take it later on. iv) What kind of 4 Power Mtg is envisaged - at what level? Perhaps as before, à la Palais Rose. If so, no need for much prepn. for we know what our objectives wd. be at such a Confce. We must judge our reply on basis of what is best internationally not on basis of our domestic convenience. Tho' there is some connn. We have to weigh our needs. We may soon have to take further economic actions : that has a relation to electoral chances, which in turn have internatl. consequences. Main ques for us : wd. such an announcemt. make it more likely tht. a 4 Power Mtg will be held. It may well make it less likely.

P.M.

What wd. be published?

A.E.

The letter, of which final draft has not bn. prepared.

P.M.

Sentence at x/ is a new offer. We shd. value it. Tho' y/ is old stuff, of much less value.

A.E.

But is y/ their intended method for x/? Does x/ lead only to an old-style y/?

Sw.

If announcemt. was limited to ratificn., and nothg. was said of 4 Power Mtg wd. R. re-act as predicted by A.E.?

P.M.

They have said already tht., if ratifn. occurs, they won't talk. By 21-25 Mar. we shall know wtr Fr. ratifies. People will think a visit by E. is important, esp. if related to a possible 4 Power Mtg. We shd. not brush it aside. Agree E.'s main object is to ensure ratificn. But so is ours. R. opposn. to it is only a threat. Wd. have liked to see draft of reply to W'ton. Emphasis is important. If it were disclosed tht. we had discouraged initiative by E. to come here plus x/, it wd. be v. injurious to us. Strong feelings around in minority here about H. bomb. Must be careful to see tht. this isn't turned v. us, or exploited by Opposn. P.M. Not sure tht. Germans wd. object to recovering sovereignty on V.E. Day. Adenauer regarded that as defeat of Hitler not of Germany. On (ii) - R. have threatened this already. No irreparable harm if they repeat it. Sal. No doubt we cd. not send negative reply. Effect on U.S. & on opinion here if it came out. Timing. Plan has not bn. fully worked out. G. reaction may not matter. R. reaction is more important. Tho' their policy will in end be based on facts, they may feel obliged to be v. stiff for a time. Invitn. to 4 Power Mtg soon after ratifn. is most unlikely to get favourable response. Meaning of x/. Don't think E. contemplates top-level mtg. He never has. As constitl. monarch he will confine himself to formal acts. Almost certainly he thinks in terms of y/. Domestic sitn. For weeks we have bn. dominated by chance of early election - & not because of Labour disarray. Foreign observers have it in mind too : this is cause of b/p. We can't therefore rule out Election late in May. Indeed, we must keep ourselves free to have it. Wd. therefore prefer Paris mtg later.

P.M.

Suppose it were said we had discouraged visit of E. to Europe. in order tht. we mght be able to seize Party advantage in snap election. Suppose Oppn. cd. say this during an election?

A.E.

We need say no more than "May may be diff. moment for us because of political sitn. here". Every other country has said it constantly. Don't believe au fond tht. such a move will affect Fr. voting. But agree we can't brush it aside on that account.

H.M.

Purpose is to secure ratifn. Effect in France. Every time U.S. has tried this sort of thing, Fr. have re-acted the opposite way. E.g. activities re E.D.C. Timing : better to announce it just before vote & too late for R. to re-act v. it. Shdn't. U.S. think again re effect on French. Similar move last Italian election.

P.M.

Believe French wd. be flattered. And tht. U.S. have reason to suppose that G. wd. not be offended.

K.

Not sure about effects on French. Don't want to lose our freedom to manoeuvre on election date here. Wd. therefore sooner see the Paris mtg. later - June vice May.

P.M.

Or earlier : late April vice May.

W.

Only 2 days in May wd. be practicable - 19th. or 26th.

R.A.B.

First week in June wd. suit Finance Bill better.

W.

But holiday season (Whitsun) then starts : viz., Whitsun followed by Wakes. 26th. May is prob. last convenient date.

R.A.B.

That wd. mean truncated Finance Bill. Possible.

A.E.

Diff. to run on until Oct., if financial sitn. is likely to be comparable to 1951. Otherwise, I wd. prefer Oct. or Feb '56.

R.A.B.

Our measures have done good. But confidence factors related to election started the trouble. And mght recur if electoral uncertainty remained. Fr. angle of currency. essential to keep room for manoeuvre. And looks as tho' we shall be pushed twds early election.

P.M.

I was inclining twds. early election. Uncertainty of foreign speculators is important factor. But felt that this message created a new situation. With perils - if it became known we had discouraged E. from visit with x/ in his mind : esp. if we had done so for Party advantage.

R.A.B.

If this Mtg. is rushed, it will provoke definite refusal from R. Are we sincere about 4 Power Mtg? If we are, this isn't the way of getting it. Do U.S. want it? Mention of Austrian Treaty, e.g. Needs more time to organise.

Sw.

Must encourage this initiative. Want E. to come to Europe. Rushing announcemt. wd. not help. Wd. prefer we shd say no more now than that he is coming - I wd. prefer in June. And issue invitatn. to R. when he is here. Not related to ratifn. but for general discrn. on internatl. situation.

R.A.B.

Promise of E.'s arrival and prospect of 4 Power Mtg. will be much more useful to us in May election than earlier arrival of E. and certain R. refusal of 4 Power Mtg.

A.E.

Are P.M.'s plans off, if E. is likely to come to Europe later in summer?

P.M.

A new sitn. I shd. have to consider my public duty.

A.E.

If I am not competent to meet E. then, that wd. rule for all time.

Taken from C. 23(55) - Meeting held on 14 March 1955.