740.00112 European War 1939/6486: Telegram

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

1242. Department’s 521, August 21, 11 p.m. I called on the Director of Commercial Accords at the Foreign Office today and [Page 364] obtained from him confirmation of the following understanding which he authorized me to state was the official position of the French Government in answer to points a, b, and c mentioned in paragraph 5 of Department’s reference telegram:

The French Government is prepared to give an official assurance as to the maintenance of the prohibition of shipments in French bottoms of North African cobalt and molybdenum destined to Germany. The French Government is also prepared to give an official assurance not to authorize the export of North African cobalt to metropolitan France or to any other country except Germany (this official stated that in his opinion if the United States Government were to insist it could probably also obtain from the French Government an assurance regarding the prohibition of export from North Africa of molybdenum).
The above would constitute the official assurances by the French Government.
The French Government would expect in return from the United States a shipment of a tanker load of kerosene to North Africa (it would greatly prefer instead a load of gas oil).

The official in question begged me to stress to the Department the urgent necessity for a quick decision. He said that the Foreign Office was under very heavy pressure from the industrial production Department of the French Government to send cobalt to metropolitan France in important quantities and he pointed out that the French market actually consumed 1200 tons of North African cobalt per annum. Cobalt was being used in the manufacture of materials which would eventually find their way to Germany and consequently an official assurance that North African cobalt would not be imported to metropolitan France should be considered as of very special interest to our Government.