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1959: Anglo-US TV debate makes history

VIDEO : Harold Macmillan and Dwight Eisenhower talk live

British prime minister Harold Macmillan and American president Dwight Eisenhower have given an historic live television broadcast from Downing Street.

Among the subjects the two leaders discussed were world peace and global poverty.


"War has become so frightening in its capacity for destruction of the whole of civilisation"

President Eisenhower

President Eisenhower told the prime minister he thought Anglo-American relations had never been stronger.

But, he said, the two countries' efforts to achieve world peace must remain at the top of the agenda.

'Peace is imperative'

He said: "When we are talking about peace, we're talking about something that's the imperative of our time.

"War has become so frightening in its capacity for destruction of the whole of civilisation that we... have the responsibility of making sure that our actions... are all directed by this single purpose."

The two men discussed the threat of Communism and the Anglo-American efforts being made to control the Soviet Union's attempts to dominate Western Europe, particularly in Berlin.

Mr Macmillan called for a summit meeting to discuss the Cold War and ways to bring it to an end - Mr Eisenhower indicated he had reservations on that subject.

The debate then moved to the topic of global poverty and the need to tackle it through expanding world trade and contact between countries.

The president said: "There are one billion, seven hundred million people living today without sufficient food, clothing and health facilities."

Mr Macmillan then spoke about the Commonwealth and its role in improving conditions for millions around the world.

"Don't let anyone in America think it's the sun setting on the British Empire, it's the dawn rising on the new Commonwealth and it's all part of the same story," he said.

In Context
President Eisenhower's meeting with the Prime Minister Macmillan took place as part of a nine-day tour of Europe.

During his trip he held talks with the French President General Charles de Gaulle in Paris, where he also met with Italian Prime Minister Signor Segni and Nato personalities.

He then held talks with German Chancellor, Dr Konrad Adenauer in Bonn.

The main purpose of the round of meetings was to discuss issues such as the future status of Berlin and to strengthen Western ranks against any future Soviet pressure on Berlin.

It was during the British leg of his tour that the historic television broadcast was made, which according to sources at the White House, was received very favourably around world.

It was the first time that such a broadcast had ever been made and initial protests by the Labour party - fearing the event would jeopardise its chances in the forthcoming General Election - were withdrawn.


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