Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)
M. Tixier came in to see me at his request.
He brought up the question of the installations at Pointe Noire. He said that the officer at Pointe Noire had sent to him a quite elaborate set of material covering plans, work being done on the quay, etc.; that work was civilian. At the same time other work was being done on the field itself; this was military. He thought we ought promptly to get together to discuss this work so that the matériel sent from here did not duplicate matériels they had, etc.
I asked whether it would not be simpler to discuss it in London since our Army officers were now directly in touch with de Gaulle.
Tixier said he thought not. He said that the actual handling of matériel and shipments started from here. He said that it was not wholly a military matter since on their side it was civilian.
I said that on our side it was purely military. We were not engaged in any work at Pointe Noire except as a result of our military operations; no one had even thought of civil arrangements, but merely of arrangements for mutual assistance in a mutual military effort.
Tixier then said that London was anxious to know whether, at the close of the war, the permanent installations at Pointe Noire would revert to France, without payment of indemnity for costs.
I said this was a typical question they should discuss with the Army. I could only give him my personal view, which was that they should revert to France without charge since it did plainly cost more to tear down houses, hangars, radio masts, etc., and transport them back to the United States than to construct material here; but I was by no means clear whether the Army had arrived at a solution of these matters. I said, however, I would take it up. Meanwhile, I said I wished to urge them to arrange to have some single authority in Pointe Noire with whom our officers could deal. Our people would have a hard time if they met one view on the part of the Free French Army officers, and another view on the part of the civil authorities.
Tixier said that exactly such a difference did exist. The arrangements they were working under had been made by General Sicé. But the Civil Governor, through his economic man, had not agreed.[Page 572]
I said this was exactly the kind of thing I thought General Bolte could work out with General de Gaulle. So far as comparison of plans and matériel was concerned, the people at Pointe Noire were in a far better position than anyone else. If it was desired to confirm the arrangements made, or to work out arrangements here, I would tackle that question with the War Department and see how they wished to do it.
In response to a question, I also said I would see when Maynard Barnes was to leave.