740.00112 European War 1939/5794: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in France (Tuck)

397. Your 897, June 20, 1 p.m. The Department appreciates the information concerning the cobalt transaction. It is prepared to accept the unofficial undertaking of the French Government that no further shipments will be made, but in view of the importance thereof considers that this undertaking should include also the projected shipment from Nemours. While we realize the difficulty of an outright repudiation of the German contract, it should be possible to find the means to delay in one way or another the loading and sailing of the vessel until we are prepared to deal with the attempted passage of this contraband of war. If the French authorities are as anxious and willing to help us as they profess to be, they should at the very least be willing to keep us closely informed of the status of this shipment, its proposed date of departure, and the course it would follow.

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We should furthermore require some form of assurance that facilities will be provided in the future whereby we may satisfy ourselves from time to time that no movement has occurred in the stocks of cobalt and molybdenum and that these minerals remain in North Africa. If all of the above assurances are forthcoming, even though they are placed on an unofficial basis, the Department is willing to permit a French tanker to furnish a cargo of kerosene to North Africa.

In view of their confidential nature the Department prefers to obtain these assurances through the Embassy in Vichy without reference to the French representatives in Washington. On all technical matters connected with the operation of the economic accord we shall continue to deal with the French here as in the past, but we shall look to you hereafter to handle any negotiations respecting North Africa which may call for similar informal or unofficial undertakings on the part of the French Government.

Repeat to Algiers for Murphy as no. 194.