862.24/742: Telegram

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

1231. Embassy’s 1223, August 22, 10 a.m. Following is a close translation of the text of a note dated August 21 which was received at the Embassy late this afternoon:

“Mr. Chargé d’Affaires. On June 12, 1942, the Embassy of the United States at Vichy communicated to the Minister of Foreign Affairs a telegram from Mr. Cordell Hull40 stating that the Department of State ‘after full consideration of the factors involved had decided to authorize the immediate resumption of shipments to North Africa’. In fact in execution of this decision the Ouessant and Noirmoutier left New York for Casablanca via Curaçao and Aruba on the 15th and 24th of July.

The question of the resumption of supplies to French North Africa appeared therefore definitely settled since by the very terms [Page 363] of aforementioned communication from the Department of State it was ‘after full consideration of the factors involved’ that the American Government had taken its decision and despatched the first two supply ships.

Therefore, it is with surprise that the French Government has read your letter of July 2941 asking it to renew once again the assurances which it had given in its note of February 24 and confirmed in its note of March 1442—assurances according to whose terms ‘no military aid would be given to one of the belligerents in any part of the theater of operations and no policy of open assistance outside the framework of the armistice conventions would be adopted.’

As it has already stated to the Federal Government in its note of May 13, 1942,43 concerning the status of French possessions in America ‘the French Government has always respected its engagements and no change in the constitution of the new government can cause it to modify its attitude.’

Moreover I had myself previously informed Admiral Leahy in a conversation on general subjects which I had with him on April 2744 that I had never contemplated repudiating the engagements taken vis-à-vis the United States.

However, since the Federal Government again raises the question of these engagements I must in my turn recall that in subscribing to them the French Government had expressly stated that as a counterpart to the assurances given it expected from the American Government ‘a spirit of comprehension and desire for agreement’ which should manifest itself notably not only in the resumption of the supplying of North Africa but also in a satisfactory settlement of the St. Pierre–Miquelon affair and in respecting the rights of interests of France in various parts of the world.

At a time when the Federal Government asks for the renewal of the assurances which the French Government has never questioned, the latter is justified in recalling the conditions under which these assurances were given.

Please accept, Mr. Chargé d’Affaires, the assurances of my most distinguished consideration. Pierre Laval.”

  1. See telegram No. 172, June 11, to the Consul General at Algiers, and footnote 61, p. 313.
  2. Not printed; it was sent in accordance with Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 464, July 27, 9 p.m., to the Chargé in France, p. 345.
  3. See telegrams No. 292, February 25, 10 a.m., and No. 390, March 14, 4 p.m., from the Ambassador in France, pp. 141 and 148, respectively.
  4. Post, p. 631.
  5. See telegram No. 623, April 27, 8 p.m., from the Ambassador in France, p. 181.