862.24/575: Telegram

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

88. You are requested to convey the following message from the President to Marshal Pétain:

“Since sending you my message of January 20, it has been brought to my attention that the French Government may have entered into some arrangement with the Axis Powers providing for the use of French ships for the transportation of supplies and possibly war material to Tunis for the use of the enemy forces in Libya. I have been informed that supplies have gone forward by this route and that food, liquid fuels, trucks, munitions and other supplies have been shipped from Metropolitan France or sent in from French North African territories.

The position of France and the limitations placed upon it through the Armistice are fully recognized and understood by the Government [Page 132]and people of the United States who, as I previously have made clear, in the spirit of their traditional friendship were prepared to give certain assurances that the established relationship between the two countries would be preserved. If, however, France now proceeds to enter into agreements for the shipment of war materials or forwards supplies to the enemies of the United Nations, France, by its own action, will have turned its back upon the uninterrupted friendly relationship with the United States and will place itself in the category of nations which are directly assisting the Axis Powers who have opened warfare upon the United States. There can be no possible justification under the terms of the Armistice for shipment of war materials or other direct aid to Axis nations. I am confident that such action would be contrary to the wishes of the people of France and disastrous to their aspirations and their final destiny.

Unless I can receive official assurances that no military aid will go forward to Germany, Italy and Japan and that French ships will not be used in the furtherance of their acts of aggression in any theater of war, wherever it may be, I shall ask Admiral Leahy to return immediately to the United States in order that his advice and counsel may be obtained in the determination of the future course of policy to be pursued with regard to the Government of Vichy.”