781.003/17: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State

488. Department’s 170, April 13, 2 p.m. You will recall from my 28, January 8, 7 p.m.,3 that Vienot, Undersecretary of State for [Page 860] Foreign Affairs, said to me at that time that he wished to take up the question of capitulations in Morocco. He did not, however, follow up this conversation in any way and nothing more was heard of the matter.

It is of course obvious that when the French come to us with a request to renounce our capitulatory rights these rights will possess a certain nuisance value which we might attempt to capitalize. The British, in giving up their capitulatory rights in Morocco, will have received a quid pro quo in the form of French renunciation of capitulations in Egypt. For our part we might conceivably consider requesting in addition to satisfactory guarantees for our commerce with Morocco certain concessions possibly relating to our trade with France or French colonies.

However, in considering this matter it occurs to me, first, that the French Government has been playing the game fairly with us recently (witness their attitude in the Saint Pierre liquor smuggling case4 and in the apple and pear matter5) and, second, there seems to be nothing at this time which we need from the French. Furthermore, I have an idea that despite our nuisance value in this matter we shall find it difficult enough to obtain guarantees for our commerce with Morocco which will prove satisfactory in practice: the French may be expected to press the argument that having developed Morocco at the cost of French lives and money they should be allowed a preferential position; and of course guarantees which look well on paper can always be chiselled away by administrative action.

Therefore, unless at the time the French raise this Moroccan question with us there should be some other matter of interest under discussion between the two Governments it seems to me that the wiser policy will be to deal with the Moroccan question solely on its merits and while insisting on satisfactory guarantees of equality of treatment for our trade with Morocco to fall in line with the policy now being worked out at Montreux regarding the Egyptian capitulations which has already been accepted by the British as regards Morocco.

  1. Not printed.
  2. See pp. 298 ff.
  3. See pp. 275 ff.