740.0011 European War 1939/4787½

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The French Ambassador called to see me at his request. The Ambassador brought with him a copy of the note dated July 16, signed by the Secretary of State, acknowledging the receipt by the President of the letter handed to the President recently by the Ambassador and sent to him by Marshal Pétain.

The Ambassador said that this communication had been a great surprise to him inasmuch as he had understood from the President that his reply to Marshal Petaiirs letter would be in the form of a personal letter and he asked what the reason for this communication might be. I told the Ambassador that, as he knew, I had been away during the past week and that I would have to ask the President for [Page 474] such information. I said, however, that the Ambassador could certainly assume that this communication would not have been sent except at the desire of the President himself. The Ambassador said that Marshal Pétain would be very much aggrieved that his personal communication did not merit a reply inasmuch as it was the practice for a chief of state to acknowledge a personal communication from another chief of state. To this I made no reply and merely stated that if the President desired me give any further explanation to the Ambassador, I would be glad to do so.

S[umner] W[elles]