811.20 Defense (M)/7538

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Charles W. Lewis, Jr., of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs

Participants: Mr. Guérin, French Embassy.62
Mr. Wilson,63 Board of Economic Warfare.
Mr. Finletter, DM.64
Mr. DeGolia, AP.65
Mr. Villard.66
Mr. Lewis.

It was explained to Mr. Guérin that this Government was concerned about the stocks of cobalt in French North Africa and was desirous of seeing shipments of this commodity stopped. Mr. Guérin said that he was in a position to say that all shipments of cobalt might be suspended if the United States would agree to supply a substantial quantity of petroleum products to French North Africa.

After some discussion, the suggestion was made that this Government might agree to permit the shipment of several thousand tons of kerosene (the amount suggested by Mr. Guérin was 13,000 tons to meet the requirements of French North Africa for a period of three months) if the French would immediately embargo all shipments of cobalt and molybdenum from French North Africa, and would halt or bring back to that area any shipments which might recently have been sent forward to France. It was added that if these conditions were agreed to this Government would be willing to enter immediately into discussions with the French with regard to the shipment of other classes of petroleum products.

Mr. Guérin said he would telegraph a proposal along the above lines to his Government.

In response to an earlier suggestion that the French suspend shipments from North Africa of all minerals, he stated that he was positive that his Government would not agree to this, since such action would produce many economic and social problems as a result of the closing of the mines which the French could not undertake to meet under existing conditions. It was thought that there was a reasonable amount of justification for this point of view, and the point was therefore not pressed at this time, since it was agreed that the vital minerals for consideration were cobalt and molybdenum, all the others produced in North Africa being regarded [Page 315] as of secondary importance. These two minerals, moreover, were the subject of earlier discussion at the start of the trade program, when the French had agreed orally to suspend shipments but had never followed this up in writing. It was felt, therefore, that the freezing of such stocks could now properly form the subject of further discussion.

  1. Paul Guérin, Special Economic Representative of the North African authorities attached to the French Embassy.
  2. Duane Wilson.
  3. Thomas K. Finletter, Acting Chief of the Division of Defense Materials.
  4. Darwin J. DeGolia, Office of the Petroleum Adviser.
  5. Henry S. Villard, Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs.