The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé at Tangier (Childs)

Dear Mr. Childs: The Department has been very much interested in your recent reports regarding General Orgaz, Spanish High Commissioner in Morocco. I refer especially to your despatches no. 475 of December 9, 1941, and no. 583, January 27, 1942,24 and to telegrams no. 4 of January 5, no. 10 of January 7, no. 26 of January 23, and no. 116 of March 13, 1942. Careful consideration has likewise been given the comments and recommendations contained in your despatches no. 493 of December 13 and no. 503 of December 17, 1941 with respect to the possible provisioning of Tangier and Spanish Morocco by the United States.

As you have undoubtedly been informed by the Naval Attaché, the Department is interested in exploring the suggestions made by the Legation’s contacts regarding General Orgaz, but we gather from your telegram no. 33, January 28, 1942 that the change in the military [Page 456] situation in North Africa has made the present an inappropriate time to initiate any political action. However, in view of the expressed desire of the Spanish authorities to obtain supplies from this country, it is thought, as you have suggested, that something might be done along economic lines which would serve to pave the way for a later démarche with the High Commissioner and would also have a propaganda value among the inhabitants of the Moroccan areas under Spanish control.

As you know, this Government and the Spanish Government are at present endeavoring to work out a trade program which includes Spanish Morocco, but not Tangier, within its scope.25 From the point of view of the United States, however, it appears that a separate agreement for the supply of Spanish Morocco and Tangier would be preferable, as tending to encourage an independent course of action on the part of the authorities in that area. In addition, of course, there is the possibility that the general program may not be carried out.

Accordingly, it is suggested that you consider, in consultation with the Naval Attaché, and with particular reference to the recommendation made in your telegram no. 116, March 13, the advisability of proposing to General Orgaz an agreement along the lines of that in effect between France and the United States for economic assistance to the French North African possessions.26 Under present conditions, such an arrangement would permit the purchase and shipment from this country of foodstuffs and such other non-military articles as may be available in the American market, quantities to be determined on the basis of current needs in the Spanish Morocco–Tangier area and carefully regulated to prevent the accumulation of stocks. Many articles, of course, such as rubber goods, trucks, tractors, et cetera, are in such short supply in this country that their export probably could not be permitted.

It would be understood that none of the goods received from the United States would be reexported from Morocco and that the export of similar goods would likewise be prohibited. The observance of this condition would be verified by control officers stationed in Tangier and Spanish Morocco.

Although the Department appreciates the desirability of having American vessels participate in trade with North Africa, it is unlikely that shipping could be spared for this purpose, and it would be safest to assume that supplies obtained in the United States would have to be carried by Spanish vessels.

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If, after consideration of all elements involved, you feel that an arrangement such as that outlined above would be in the interests of this Government and would be favorably received by General Orgaz, you are authorized to broach the matter to him informally. You should make it clear, however, that the suggestion is merely tentative and exploratory and does not in any way constitute a definite offer by this Government.

The Department leaves to your discretion the exact manner of approach to the High Commissioner. In any case, you should explain that the suggestion is inspired by this Government’s desire to assist Tangier and Spanish Morocco in their present difficult situation and that, obviously, the maintenance of the status quo in those areas would be an essential condition to the conclusion of any agreement.

Sincerely yours,

Sumner Welles
  1. Despatch No. 583 not printed.
  2. For correspondence on this subject, see vol. iii, pp. 248 ff., passim.
  3. The Murphy–Weygand memorandum of agreement initialed at Algiers, February 26, 1941; for text, see telegram No. 249, February 28, 1941, 10 a.m., from the Ambassador in France, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. ii, p. 226.