No. 652
The Acting Secretary of State to the Chief of the Division of African Affairs ( Villard )


Sir: Supplementing oral instructions which you have received in the Department regarding negotiations to be undertaken shortly with respect to the status of the International Zone of Tangier, there are set forth below certain directives by which you and your American colleagues are to be guided during the course of those negotiations. It is understood that you will be permitted certain latitude in conducting negotiations but that any drastic departure from these directives, particularly any departure involving the legal position of this Government, will be taken up with the Department.

The leading role which the United States has assumed in world affairs as a result of the war, as well as its long continued interest in Morocco, makes it logical that we should assume a position in respect to the International Zone of Tangier commensurate with our power and prestige. The military and naval authorities of this Government are in agreement with the State Department that it is desirable that the United States take an active part in the reestablishment of the Tangier Zone and in the interim administration thereof following withdrawal of the Spanish forces which occupied the Zone unilaterally and illegally in 1940.

The British and French Governments are in agreement that the Spanish occupation should cease and that a temporary regime should be established pending an agreement as to the permanent future status of the Zone. The British and American Governments favor the calling of an international conference for this purpose. The Spanish Government has already approached the British Government offering to withdraw its military forces from Tangier and to work out a solution for the administration of the Zone. In the opinion of the American Government, the simplest solution for the interim period would be a joint military occupation and administration on an equal basis by the four powers, namely, United States, Great Britain, France and Spain. The intricate problems of governing the Zone could thus be handled simply and directly by military government personnel of the four countries.

It is evident, however, that none of the other three powers are in favor of military occupation of the Zone following the removal of Spanish forces. The British have expressed themselves as reluctant to employ military personnel for administrative purposes and have stated that they favor a civilian provisional administration. Military [Page 983] administration of the Zone is likewise not favored by either the Spanish or the French, although the latter would probably be willing to establish such a regime provided it was in the hands of French or Shereefian troops. For various reasons also there is some American sentiment against the use of military forces in Tangier, particularly since the war in Europe is over and the Tangier Zone is not a liberated area. In view of the strong feelings of the other nations on this subject, the Department would be prepared to recognize the desirability of a civilian administration, with military forces to be employed solely for police purposes in order to insure tranquillity in the transitional period.

The question then arises as to what form such a civilian administration could take which would enable the United States to participate without adhering to the Tangier Statute of 1923. This Statute is still legally in force and it would be a simple matter to revive it, but the United States was not a party to this instrument and neither could nor would adhere to it now. A solution which would avoid this difficulty and at the same time secure for us our desired position in the Zone would be to permit the reinstatement of a regime functioning under the provisions of the Tangier Statute, with such modification as may be necessary, by proclamation of Great Britain, France and Spain, on condition that

The United States should be invited by those three powers or by the Sultan of Morocco, to become associated in the administration of the International Zone on a de facto basis guaranteeing equal rights with all other signatories of the Statute, and that
The United States should not be considered in any way as an adherent to the Statute and should assume no obligations whatever thereunder, and
The above terms would be incorporated in notes exchanged between the United States on the one hand and Great Britain, France and Spain on the other;
It will be understood that the United States Government will in no way relinquish its treaty rights in Tangier during the interim regime.
This temporary regime shall remain in force pending the calling of an international conference of the interested powers.

American responsibilities in the interim administration of the Zone would consist of (1) Supplying a small military force to be used in conjunction with similar forces of the other powers for police purposes only, preferably not under French or Spanish command, and (2) furnishing as financial or other officials non-governmental personnel from the United States to be employed and paid directly by the Tangier administration, the amounts and methods of payment to be discussed during the conversations.

[Page 984]

Questions relating to the position of the other signatory Powers of the 1923 Statute (Portugal, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium) and their participation in the interim regime should be left for determination by Great Britain, France and Spain. The Department considers that, in any case, Great Britain, France and Spain should make a declaration to the other signatory powers to the effect that the rights of the latter under the Statute will be safeguarded. The role of the United States in this interim period should be that primarily of an equal participant in the Administration and an actively interested observer with respect to the Statute, claiming equal rights with the signatories of the Tangier Statute but not adhering to that document, and assuming none of the obligations imposed on the signatories thereunder.

If, upon notification of our intention to hold these preliminary conversations with regard to the International regime for Tangier, Russia should express a desire to participate, it should be our policy to admit that country into the discussions on an equal basis.

In entering into negotiations with the interested powers on the subject of the status of the International Zone of Tangier the representatives of the United States should be guided by the principle that the extent of American participation in the permanent regime to be established and its rights and privileges under this regime should under no circumstances be less than those of any other Power.

Very truly yours,

Joseph C. Grew