740.00112 European War 1939/6791

The British Minister (Hall) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)

W.T. 142/9/42

Dear Mr. Berle: You mentioned to me sometime ago the possibility of the United States Government extending its skeleton supply programme now being carried on with North Africa to West Africa. It was, I think, your thought that by extending this programme the United States Government might be able to succeed, not only in getting observers into this important area, but also in obtaining useful commodities from it.

London has commented in reply to the report of my conversation with you that, as the United States Government attaches great importance to this plan on strategic grounds, they raise no objection. They hope, however, that the objective of establishing United States observers in French West Africa will be reached at the smallest practical cost in terms of Economic Warfare.

In this connection they call attention to the reduction in the production of, for example, ground nuts in the year 1941–1942. They think that this reduction is partly due to a shortage of supplies of other commodities necessary to maintain output and they hope in considering supplies which can be safely sent into West Africa, that care will be taken to see that production of goods likely to be valuable to the enemy, either directly or indirectly, is not once again stimulated. This view appears to rest on the assumption that in view of the control over French trade exercised by the Armistice Commission, it is likely to be found very difficult to get approval for the export from West Africa of substantial quantities of goods for the benefit of the United Nations.

I am happy to be able to record this general agreement on policy and if my staff can be of help in discussing detail when the time is ripe, we shall always be at your disposal.

Yours very sincerely,

Noel Hall