No. 669
Memorandum by the Acting Chief of the Division of African Affairs (Wasson)

Memorandum of Conversation

Subject: International Zone of Tangier.

Participants: Mr. Henderson, NEA
M. Lacoste, Counselor of the French Embassy
Mr. Wasson, AF

M. Lacoste, Counselor of the French Embassy, called upon Mr. Henderson to discuss matters relating to Tangier. …

M. Lacoste then raised the question of the participation of representatives of the USSR in the conversations. Mr. Henderson stated that he was aware of this development and that, as a matter of fact, Mr. Gromyko, the Soviet Ambassador, had called upon the Acting Secretary of State on the morning of July 2 in this regard. Mr. Gromyko had informed Mr. Grew that his government had instructed him to express surprise that the Soviet Government had not been invited to exchange views with the three other interested governments with respect to Tangier; that the Soviet Government was interested in the future of the International Zone; and that the Soviet Government had requested that the talks in Paris be postponed so that the Soviet Government could arrange to have one of its experts participate in the conversations. Mr. Grew had informed Mr. Gromyko that we would welcome the participation of the Soviet Government in the conversations provided that France and the United Kingdom had no objections. A general conversation ensued with regard to the expanding interest of the USSR in the Mediterranean.

M. Lacoste stated that his government felt that if the Soviet Government were admitted to the conversations it would be necessary to invite all the other powers interested in Tangier. The difficulties of bringing the smaller countries into the talks were discussed and the point was made that the principal object of driving Spain out and establishing a temporary government would be postponed as a result of the delays which would follow. The suggestion was then made by M. Lacoste that a purely Franco-British conference might be held looking to the termination of the illegal Spanish occupation of the Zone and that the United States and the Soviet Government would be kept informed. Meeting with silence, M. Lacoste then suggested that the 1923 regime might be restored integrally pending the calling of a conference of the interested powers to discuss the future status [Page 998] of the International Zone. He went on to say that the British draft proposal for an interim regime was entirely unacceptable to the French and could not possibly be used as a basis for discussion.

Mr. Henderson informed M. Lacoste that our Government has from the beginning made clear our interest in the Zone and that we have taken the stand that the restoration of the 1923 Statute to which we do not and cannot adhere would render our participation in the administration of the Zone difficult. However, there would be no objection to the establishment of a temporary regime similar in some respects to that provided for in 1923, but with features which would permit us to participate in the committee of control and the legislative assembly and [if] all American rights were safeguarded pending a formal revision of the Statute. The French might care to consider such a regime as the restoration of the 1923 Statute, but we could not regard it as other than a temporary government. Mr. Henderson then informed M. Lacoste that we could see no reason why the small nations should wish to be invited at this time since the present conversations would be limited to preparing plans for the speedy replacement of Spanish control in Tangier by a provisional interim regime pending a conference of all interested countries to determine the future of the International Zone. We would of course have no serious objection to the participation of the adherents of the Statute in these conversations although their presence would unnecessarily complicate matters and result in further delay. Mr. Henderson pointed out that no attempt would be made during the present talks to set up a permanent government for Tangier.

M. Lacoste remarked that, in connection with the present trend for the United States to take an active interest in everything that was taking place, he had noted that at recent graduating exercises at Annapolis the candidates had dipped their rings in a vase of water from the seven seas, whereas previously the water for this ritual had come from the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Caribbean. The change symbolized that the United States had assumed the role of a world power. He added that the Soviets’ sphere of influence likewise embraced the whole world.

Mr. Henderson reiterated that he preferred that only the four countries should take part in the talks, but that our Government would not resist the participation of the small nations if they insisted upon being represented. French responsibility for the maintenance of the Sultan’s sovereignty in Tangier, Mr. Henderson continued, was understood and appreciated. It was felt, however, that a temporary regime, similar to that set up by the Convention of 1923, could be established without the adherence of the United States to the Statute. He drew attention to the fact that misunderstandings might arise if [Page 999] we endeavored to discuss these questions while our representatives were conversing about them in Paris. Since Paris was the seat of the conversations the remarks made here on this subject must be considered to be of a distinctly informal nature. Mr. Henderson said that he fully understood the point of view of the French Government and felt sure that we could find a way, acceptable to all of us, to effect the withdrawal of the illegal Spanish administration and the establishment of a temporary government pending an international conference to decide upon the future administration of the Zone.

T[homas] C. W[asson]