No. 127
Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Grew)


Memorandum of Conversation

Subject: Reception of the French Ambassador by the President

Participants: The President;
The French Ambassador, Mr. Henri Bonnet;
Under Secretary, Mr. Grew.

At the President’s wish I was present this afternoon when he received the French Ambassador on the eve of the former’s departure tonight for the Big Three meeting in Berlin. The President at first said that he could not see the Ambassador and Mr. Bonnet was so informed but I felt that the political effect of such a refusal would be important and I was, therefore, fortunately able to arrange for a reconsideration of the matter and the appointment was made. The President was, of course, exceedingly busy and was obliged to keep the Ambassador waiting an hour after the time of his appointment. The Ambassador took up the following matters:

He said that General de Gaulle had been very much pleased with the invitation to visit the President in Washington towards the end of August and, as Mr. Truman had already been informed through Ambassador Caffery, General de Gaulle accepted the invitation. The President said that he was very happy to know that de Gaulle will come and that he would let him know of the date when he could [Page 148] receive him as soon as possible after Mr. Truman’s return from his forthcoming journey.
The Ambassador also spoke of General de Gaulle’s satisfaction with the President’s message concerning coal1 and he said that coal is the number one commodity of greatest importance in the rehabilitation of the liberated areas, especially in France. Political conditions could never be stable until Europe was once again economically sound. In order to accomplish this the liberated areas, especially France, must count in large measure on American assistance and support.
The Ambassador said that he now came to the main purpose of his visit which he wished to discharge before the President’s departure for the Berlin meeting. After the Yalta meeting there had been unfortunate repercussions because France had not been included and while he admitted that some things had been done by the French Government which were open to criticism, partly as a result of the disappointment at being excluded from the Yalta Conference, the French Government and also the French people earnestly desired the best possible relations with the United States. Now again there was to be a meeting of Stalin, Churchill and the President of the United States with France once more excluded. Subjects would be discussed in which France was inevitably interested especially in view of the position taken by France as one of the Big Five at the San Francisco Conference and he wished to express the earnest hope that no final decisions on matters affecting France would be taken at the Berlin meeting until the French Government could be heard. Among such questions would be reparations and arrangements for the future disposal of German territory. In this connection the Ambassador reiterated the view that the Ruhr should be internationalized and that French interest in other areas should be given full consideration. The Ambassador spoke briefly, obviously unwilling to take up the President’s time, and talked mainly in general rather than specific terms.

The President listened carefully to the Ambassador’s presentation and said that he also desired the best possible relationship between France and the United States. While making no commitment he expressed the opinion that no matters of interest to France would be finally decided at the coming conference until the French Government had been consulted. The President was thoroughly friendly throughout the conversation.

It was perhaps significant that the Ambassador did not touch upon either of the outstanding matters which now especially concern the French Government, namely, the renewal of military supplies and the question of French forces participating in the war against Japan.

The Ambassador indicated to the President that he was speaking on his own initiative and not under instructions.

J[oseph] C. G[rew]