851.85/212: Telegram

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

383. Department’s telegram 279, March 3 [31], 6 p.m. I saw Marshal Pétain in the presence of Admiral Darlan80 this morning and in as much as he always prefers to have something in writing I gave him a French paraphrase of the pertinent portions of the Department’s 279. He said that he would prefer to reply in writing and that he would send me a memorandum. Admiral Darlan said that no instructions had been sent from any French authority to damage or sabotage the French vessels now in American ports. Both the Marshal and Admiral Darlan said that they will be prepared to send specific instructions prohibiting such sabotage if we will give assurances that the vessels in question will not be handed over to the British or utilized to aid the British. Presumably the memorandum will embody this suggestion.

Admiral Darlan stated that he had no objection to our inspection or surveillance of the ships but that he hoped we would not place guards on board.

I shall telegraph immediately upon receipt of the promised memorandum.

  1. Adm. Jean François Darlan, Vice President of the French Council of Ministers, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Navy, and Interior.