Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)
M. Tixier came in to see me at his request.
He raised a question which disturbs me considerably. He said that yesterday a man named Sheets, representing the Socony-Vacuum Company, had come around to see him. He said that he was operating under the authority of the War Ferry Command and wanted to discuss the gasoline tank installations which were being made at Pointe Noire. He said that they were prepared to install these tanks for use by the Army but they wanted it understood that after the war was over, these installations and the right to use them should belong to Socony-Vacuum.
Tixier said that his understanding with the State Department and War Department was that installations made for the Army would be negotiated solely with the U.S. Army; further, that they had insisted, and the Department had agreed, that installations made on French territory would belong to France after the war. By consequence, he asked Mr. Sheets to show him his credentials as [Page 591]representing War Ferry Command. Mr. Sheets said he would do so, but never came back.
It appeared, however, that a similar request had been made in Brazzaville and that the local authorities had turned it down.
Tixier wanted to know whether the Government was behind this.
I said I knew nothing about it and would have to look into it. My impression was the same as his own, namely, that all negotiations about these matters had to be carried on between the French authorities and the American military authorities. I had no intimation that any of these negotiations involved setting up of post-war private rights. I would, however, endeavor to check into the matter and see.