Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Dunn)

Participants: Mr. Henri Bonnet, French Ambassador
The Secretary
Mr. Dunn

The French Ambassador, Mr. Henri Bonnet, came in this morning and left with the Secretary the attached memorandum38 of matters which he stated are of great interest to the French Government at the present time and on which they would be glad to have the views of this Government. I told the Ambassador that all these questions would receive prompt study and that we would communicate with him just as soon as we could on each subject.

He then brought up the question of the French representation on the German Reparations Commission, set up in Moscow as a result [Page 678] of the Crimea Conference.39 He said that the French Government and people considered that France had suffered severe devastation during the war and they would not be able to understand why France was not included in the discussion of the reparations to be obtained from Germany. He made a very strong plea in this regard. The Secretary said that it could not be considered that France had suffered anywhere nearly as much as Russia had suffered, and that he himself had seen, in flying over Russia and in visiting certain portions of it on his recent trip, startling evidences of the extent of damage and devastation caused by the Germans in that country. The Ambassador admitted that the French damage had not been as great as the Russian, but he insisted there had been such losses in France that it would be a very difficult thing to explain to the public if France were not to be a member of the Commission in Moscow to assess the German reparations. The Secretary stated that there was no thought on the part of this Government or any other government, as far as he knew, to do other than favor French participation in whatever reparations could be obtained from Germany; that the matter of reparations [representation] on the Commission was one which would have to be taken up with the governments represented at the Crimea meeting.

The Ambassador then brought up the question of the French desire to be included in the consultation to be undertaken with respect to drafting a formula on trusteeship for presentation to the United Nations before the convening of the San Francisco Conference. He made reference to the fact that France had been unable to accept sponsorship to the issuance of invitations to the San Francisco Conference, but hoped that it would be included in the drafting of the trusteeship formula. The Secretary expressed his disappointment that France had not seen fit to accept sponsorship to the Conference and explained that difficulty and delay in issuance of invitations had been caused him in his dealings with the representatives of the other twenty American Republics at Mexico City40 on the subject of world organization. The Secretary asked the Ambassador frankly whether the French Government was coming to San Francisco in a spirit of cooperation and helpfulness, or whether they expected to make trouble. The Ambassador stated, as his own personal opinion, that the French delegation would be fully cooperative and would not come with the intention of causing trouble and difficulty at the Conference. He would say, however, that there were amendments to the Dumbarton Oaks [Page 679] Proposals which the French Government was Very anxious to present for discussion and that he hoped within a few days they would be presented to us, as the Consuls of Ministry in Paris were now giving the suggestions their final consideration. As the Secretary’s calendar of appointments was extremely full this morning and he was already late in receiving the members of the Congressional Group, who had arrived to discuss with him questions concerning the San Francisco Conference, the Ambassador took his leave with the Secretary at this point.

The Secretary, as the Ambassador was leaving, assured him that the requests of the French Government would have his deep and full consideration and that he would be only too glad to support any of the French requests he properly could, with a view to assisting in the furtherance of mutual cooperation between our two countries. The Ambassador expressed his gratefulness for the Secretary’s expressions of support and left, to continue the conversation with Mr. Dunn for a few minutes more.

Mr. Bonnet further reiterated the desire of the French Government to be included in the preliminary discussions on trusteeship and stated the apprehensions the French Government had with respect to the possibilities of something being done in this matter which they might possibly have to oppose. Mr. Dunn assured the Ambassador that we were at this time making an effort to clear the matter of discussing the trusteeship proposals with the French Government, in addition to the sponsoring governments, and we were hopeful of accomplishing this purpose. Mr. Dunn assured the Ambassador that even if it were not possible to include France in the preliminary consultation, we would undertake to keep the French Government fully informed with respect to the proposals arrived at and would be very glad to discuss the matter at any time. Mr. Dunn stated that it was just common sense to have as many subjects as possible understood between the participants in the San Francisco Conference and to have as much agreement as possible arrived at before they meet at San Francisco.

The Ambassador reminded Mr. Dunn of the French note of March 1241 on the question of extending the Civil Affairs Agreement with France42 to Indo China and hoped that the Department would be able to give him an early reply.

Mr. Dunn assured the Ambassador that the matters mentioned in his memorandum would be given immediate consideration and that [Page 680] he hoped we would be able to talk again to the Ambassador within a very short time on the matters under reference.

James Clement Dunn
  1. Not printed. It pertained to matter of trusteeships following the War, to French interest in liberation of Indochina, and to question of French representation in the German Reparation Commission.
  2. Reference to Conference at Yalta, February 4–11, 1945. For agreement on reparations reached at this Conference, see Conferences at Malta and Yalta, pp. 978979.
  3. See vol. ix, pp. 1 ff.
  4. Printed in vol. vi , section on French Indochina.
  5. Agreement between the United States and France effected by exchange of letters with memoranda, August 25, 1944; for text, see Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 2313.