500.CC/2–2045: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Caffery)36

686. News stories in today’s New York Times and Herald Tribune and the Baltimore Sun by Harold Callender, Sonia Tomara and Philip Whitcomb, respectively, and apparently arising from a report by Bidault to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French Consultative Assembly, together make it appear possible that the Provisional Government of France will not take part in the San Francisco Conference unless “it obtains satisfactory information about aims and the agenda”. These reports also make it appear that a chief stumbling block in French acceptance to participate is the interpretation of the “trusteeship system”. Moreover Callender’s report has the relevant substance of our cablegram to you (reDeptel 546, February 11) covering this and some of the other subjects therein.

Apart from the fact that these reports state the term “trusteeship” does not readily translate into French, they also claim France is afraid that under the proposed trusteeship system (1) French rights in Syria and Lebanon would be affected, (2) any of their claims to the Rhineland might be prejudiced, and (3) questions may arise of “strategic bases”, the latter of which particularly “aroused deep suspicions on the part of the French”. In the event of a French decision not to participate in the San Francisco Conference we are particularly concerned that such an eventuality should not occur because of our failure to furnish full information regarding proposals to be studied there.

Therefore, should a convenient opportunity arise will you please again stress to Bidault and de Gaulle that in connection with the proposed trusteeship system neither the proposed preliminary consultations among the five powers nor the discussions at the United Nations Conference would deal with specific territories but would be restricted to the formulation of principles and provisions for machinery. Any question of the specific territories which may be placed under the trusteeship system would in each case be dealt with by subsequent agreement.

You should also recall to Bidault and de Gaulle that the five sponsoring nations are to consult each other prior to the United Nations Conference with a view to presenting agreed proposals as to machinery for dealing with trusteeships. As soon as France has agreed to become one of the sponsoring nations, we would expect to begin consultation among the five powers on this subject.

  1. Text transmitted to Mexico City for Secretary Stettinius and his Assistant, Leo Pasvolsky, in telegram 337, February 20, 9 p.m., not printed.