The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) to the Secretary of State

No. 1468

Sir: With reference to the recent exchange of telegrams between the Department and this Legation on the subject of the American claims in the French Zone, I have the honor to enclose herewith a summary report of Mr. Doolittle on the meeting of the commission held at Rabat on June 23 and 24, last.

In view of what transpired and the limited powers or lack of powers of the French delegates, I trust that the Department will concur in my opinion that not only would my presence there have been unnecessary, but would have been a positive error at this stage of proceedings.

Although the proposals of General Noguès for the settlement of the claims, were to have reached me within a few days of the meeting, it may be pointed out that nothing has yet been received from the Protectorate authorities, hence it is believed opportune to now forward this written report, which was not at first believed necessary in view of the complete verbal report given me by Mr. Doolittle and Mr. El Khazen at the conclusion of their meeting at Rabat.

Full details with reference to the claims will be dealt with in a subsequent despatch, as soon as the definite proposals from General Noguès reach me and my response has been formulated.

[Page 678]

This communication, therefore, serves only for the general information of the Department concerning the steps already taken in pursuance of the Department’s telegraphic instructions, and to explain the nature of the delay that is taking place in the negotiations.

Respectfully yours,

Maxwell Blake

The Consul at Tangier (Doolittle) to the Diplomatic Agent and Consul General (Blake)

Sir: In accordance with your instructions, accompanied by Mr. El Khazen of the American Consulate at Casablanca, I presented myself at the Diplomatic Cabinet of the French Residency General at Rabat, at 10:30 a.m. on the morning of June 23, 1939, for the first meeting regarding the settlement of American claims against the French Protectorate.

To my surprise and the surprise of Mr. El Khazen we found that we were apparently sitting in on a complete Council of Government as, in addition to M. Broustra, Chief of the Diplomatic Cabinet, there were his secretary and nine other highly placed officials of the Protectorate services, among whom the Director of Domaines, the Director of Shereefian Affairs, a representative of the Public Works Department, and others. Although the complete list of these officials was requested, I was not furnished with the list before the meeting terminated.

In response to my inquiry as to the powers of the French delegates, or commission, it was explained that the purpose of this meeting would be merely a re-examination of the claims in the hope of coming to a mutual agreement, but that their findings would be submitted to General Noguès for his approval; General Noguès thereupon to make proposals for the approval of yourself.

From my impressions gathered during the progress of these meetings, it does not appear that there is any sincere desire on the part of the Protectorate government to settle these matters in an equitable manner.

From the beginning the American delegates took a conciliatory attitude, and expressed the opinion that in practically all the cases redress could be given by returning the property seized, except of course in the few cases of consumable property which had long since disappeared. In the event that it for political reasons would be inconvenient to return the property, valuation by a committee of experts, and recompense, would seem to be the logical manner of arranging the settlement.

[Page 679]

Fortunately, with the exception of the claims of Abdel-Assiz El Yacoubi, most of these claims are relatively small, but the general attitude of the French delegates was well indicated in the case of Yacoubi, where his rights to the water supply devoted to the city of Meknez were confirmed by decree of the Director of Public Works and subsequently mentioned and confirmed in a decree of the Grand Vizir allotting the water to the city of Meknez and calling upon the city to reimburse the owners, a decree which in due time was published in the Official Bulletin. In spite of the existence of these documents from the highest officials of the French Protectorate, it was argued on the part of the Public Works representative that the decree of the Direcor General was merely a police measure taken for the purpose of temporarily putting order in the distribution of the water concerned, and that the Vizirial decree had not mentioned it for the purpose of confirming its contents, but merely as a consideration of the temporary status of the water distribution at the time it was turned over to the city, in spite of the fact that the decree of the Director General of Public Works had been taken after due inquiry on the spot, in the presence of the owners of the property.

That this line of reasoning failed to convince even themselves was indicated by an off-hand remark made later by M. Broustra, the Chief of the Diplomatic Cabinet, to the effect that Yacoubi’s case might possibly be settled by the offer of half a million francs, or so.

As I informed you verbally, the understanding after the three meetings, in the morning and afternoon of June 23 and the morning of June 24, was that the cases discussed would be presented to General Noguès who would write you his definite proposals not later than the following Thursday. In the meantime Mr. El Khazen was to return to Rabat and present himself with one or two of the claimants whose documents it was desired to examine, for the purpose of elucidating further information. As there, therefore, seemed to be nothing more for me either to discuss or do in the interim, I thought it best to return to Tangier.

Respectfully yours,

H. A. Doolittle