The Ambassador in France (Leahy) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 15—12:27 p.m.]
391. Embassy’s 309, February 27 noon35 and 369, March 10, 3 p.m. The following is a translation of a note signed by Darlan which has just been received from the Foreign Office in reply to my note bringing to its attention the substance of the Department’s 127, February 23, 8 p.m. The official who delivered the note stated that, in view of the importance the United States Government attaches to the question of gasoline deliveries, a separate note has been made explaining fully the situation which will amplify in so far as gasoline is concerned the information contained in the note transmitted in Embassy’s 390, March 14, 4 p.m., relating to the remaining balance to be delivered to the Axis forces in Libya. He expressed the hope that an early reply will be forthcoming.
“By note dated February 26, the Embassy of the United States called the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the shipments [Page 150]of French petroleum supplies delivered up to the present time to the Axis forces in Libya. The Embassy added that 300 tons of aviation gasoline would be furnished in the near future to the Germano-Italian troops in North Africa. The Embassy considers that these deliveries are a diversion, in favor of the Axis Powers, of carburants necessary for the civilian needs of North Africa and that consequently the sending of any American petroleum products will not be able to be authorized to North Africa if the foregoing deliveries are continued.
Certain deliveries of French petroleum products have in fact been made to Libya following a request made by the Axis Governments and at a time when the American Government had taken the initiative of suspending the execution of the North African supply agreement.
The French Government could not at that time, as it did on March 25, 1941, at the time of an Italian request to deliver 5000 tons of automobile gasoline from Algeria, invoke, in order to justify its refusal, the supplying by the United States of petroleum products for North Africa.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs adds, as Admiral Darlan has already pointed out to Admiral Leahy, that the major portion of supplies of carburants delivered to Libya, has been the object merely of a transit in North Africa, inasmuch as they came from metropolitan stocks. Furthermore the total amount of the quantity delivered has been replaced.
Following the assurances concerning the resumption of the economic program for North Africa given by the Government of the United States the French Government has appealed to the Axis Governments in order to get them to forego the delivery of petroleum products of French origin beyond the exacted quantity of 3,600 tons. It has just obtained satisfaction.
Furthermore, the French Government would today be willing to make another démarche in order to obtain from the Armistice Commissions that they forego the balance of this quantity (about 1,580 tons) if it were in a position at the present time to use as an argument the resumption of the supplying of North Africa with American petroleum products.
It would be grateful if the Government of the United States would inform it as soon as possible of its reply to this suggestion.”
Repeated to Murphy.