North Atlantic Pact signed: 'a shield against aggression' – archive, April 1949

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From the veiled sadness of the occasion to seating arrangement upsets: how the Guardian reported the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty

The Foreign Ministers of the 12 Western nations signed the North Atlantic Pact in the State Department at Washington last night. Mr. Dean Acheson, the Secretary of State, welcomed the Ministers with a short speech. Each of the visitors then spoke. Afterwards President Truman entered the hall and welcomed the guests. He said he hoped the treaty would be a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression. All the Foreign Ministers then signed the pact.

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The territory of any of the parties in Europe or North America, the Algerian departments of France, the occupation forces of any party in Europe, the islands under the jurisdiction of any party in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer, or the vessels or aircraft in this area of any of the parties.

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We are met together to consummate a solemn act. Those who participated in the drafting of this treaty must leave to others the judgment of the significance and value of this act. They cannot appraise the achievement, but can and should declare the purpose – like the purpose of those who chart the stars – not to create what they record, but to set down realities for the guidance of men, whether well or ill disposed.

For those who seek peace, it is a guide to refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. For those who set their feet upon the path of aggression, it is a warning that if it must needs be that offences come, then woe unto them by whom the offence cometh.

The treaty we are about to sign marks the end of an illusion: the hope that the United Nations would by itself ensure international peace.

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Link : North Atlantic Pact signed: ‘a shield against aggression’ – archive, April 1949

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