862.24/631: Telegram

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

205. Algiers’ no. 172, March 23, 5 p.m. supplemented by Cole’s report that 10,000 liters of aviation gasoline were delivered to three Italian bombers after the Army borrowed that amount from Standard Oil stocks under order from Vichy.

[Page 154]

The first of these reports is entirely at variance with the statement contained in the French Government’s note of March 14 that it would be willing to make another démarche in order to obtain from the Armistice Commission that they forego the balance of 1580 tons. Furthermore this Government had no prior knowledge of the fact that the North African authorities under orders from the French Government were allowing Italian planes to fuel on French territory thus making use of French territory as a base of operations.

You are requested urgently to bring the substance of these reports to the attention of the French Government and to state that had this Government been aware of these deliveries it would have hesitated before agreeing in principle to the resumption of the North African program.35a We shall, however, await a reply to the above representations before reconsidering our position. Please telegraph as quickly as possibly reply made.

  1. For correspondence on the economic aid program for French North Africa, see pp. 224 ff.