481.11/129: Telegram

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

1058. Your 387, May 31, 4 p.m.54

1. A paraphrase of the Department’s [Tangier’s] No. 8, May 27, noon to [from] Blake was handed yesterday to both Coursier55 at the Foreign Office and Marchal.

[Page 674]

Coursier explained that the Foreign Office does not entertain the idea that settlement of the claims can be made dependent upon the conclusion of new treaties. He said that it is, however, only natural that the French authorities have a definite point of view with respect both to the merits of the claims and to the basis on which they should be settled in the event a new order for foreigners in Morocco were not contemplated. He then pointed out that this special point of view would not be controlling in the present negotiations between Blake and the Resident General in view of the concurrent negotiations looking to a change in the capitulatory regime.

He said that under these circumstances it is the French view that if the changes contemplated cannot, for some reason, be given effect then the French authorities would want to deal anew with the claims question on the basis of the point of view that would have been controlling in the past.

In other words Coursier interpreted the Resident General’s communication to Blake as merely a reservation to safeguard the traditional French point of view in the event modification of the capitulatory regime becomes impossible. He interpreted the closing paragraph of the Department’s instruction to Blake as a reservation on our part to the effect that we expect a settlement of the claims regardless of the outcome of the Washington negotiations. He agreed that this proposition was unassailable.

Coursier concluded his remarks by expressing the hope that neither Blake nor the Resident General would read into the Department’s instruction anything that might hold up the negotiations now resumed between the two. He said that the Resident General’s note to Blake was an expression of French good will in the matter of meeting our desire to negotiate the claims question locally and without further delay. He added that it should be obvious to both sides that a matter of a few thousand dollars could not exercise a controlling influence on either’s point of view with respect to the far more important question for both of the regime to which foreigners are to be subjected in Morocco.

2. Marchal is sailing today on the steamer Champlain. He brought back with him from Morocco the proposed draft of the French desiderata which still awaits the signature of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Its contents will be telegraphed to the Department as soon as it is received by the Embassy.56

Repeated by telegraph to Tangier.

  1. Not printed; it quoted telegram No. 4, May 31, 4 p.m., to Tangier, supra, and instructed the Ambassador at his discretion to bring it to the attention of the French Foreign Ministry.
  2. M. Henri Coursier, Chief of the Africa-Levant Section of the French Foreign Office.
  3. Telegram No. 1093, June 8, 5 p.m., not printed.