Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Secretary of State
|M. Bidault, French Foreign Minister;|
|Admiral William D. Leahy;57|
|Acting Secretary Grew|
I went to see the President this morning at 11:15 and told him that, after giving further consideration to the President’s proposed statement to the press after his talk with the French Foreign Minister, Mr. Bidault,58 this morning, I wished to propose to the President a revised draft which was of a somewhat more positive character than the first one. The revised draft also omitted the paragraph referring [Page 688]indirectly to Indochina. The President said that he too had thought that the paragraph in question should be omitted and that he was just about to discuss the matter with Admiral Leahy, who had also come into the President’s office. We went through the revised draft together and, with two or three minor changes in phraseology, the President and Admiral Leahy approved it and it was decided to release it59 immediately after the conference with Mr. Bidault. The President asked me whether I thought it ought not be given out by the State Department and I said that on the contrary I thought it should be released direct from the White House.
At 12:15 I met Mr. Bidault and the French Ambassador at the White House and introduced the French Foreign Minister to the President. Admiral Leahy was also present at the conference. The President welcomed Mr. Bidault and told him how he desired to strengthen the friendship between the United States and France which had commenced with the foundation of our nation. The President also thanked Mr. Bidault for his cooperation and helpfulness in San Francisco and his gratification at the contribution of the French Delegation to the work of the conference.
Mr. Bidault expressed pleasure at the President’s remarks and said that France had once been great and hoped for the support of the United States in enabling France to return to her former position. He said that Europe could not get along with Soviet Russia and Great Britain as the only two great European powers, and that a strong France was needed in the interests of all.
Mr. Bidault said that a good many European matters had been decided at meetings at which France had not been present and he hoped that she would be included in such meetings in future. The President said that there had been a good deal of talk about a forthcoming meeting of Stalin, the Prime Minister and himself but no such meeting had yet been arranged and none of the three heads of government had yet taken the initiative in arranging such a meeting. The President indicated that in the event of such meeting the participation of France might be given consideration by the three heads of government.
Mr. Bidault said that various problems in connection with Germany were of special interest to France and that he would like to discuss some of these matters with the President. The President said that the American Government was entirely willing to relinquish to France a part of the American zone of occupation in Germany and had already taken steps to do so. Mr. Bidault indicated that he was aware of this step.[Page 689]
The President said that he had received a message from General de Gaulle to the effect that France would be glad to participate in the war against Japan alongside the United States and the President expressed his appreciation of France’s offer and assistance. The President said that it is his policy to leave to the Commanders-in-Chief in the field matters relating to the conduct of the war and that in this case also he would wish to leave to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Forces, Pacific,60 the determination of whether it would be practicable and helpful to have French forces join with us in the operations against Japan. He indicated that such assistance as France and our other Allies might bring to the struggle in the Pacific, which would synchronize with operations already planned or under way, would be welcomed. The President thought that the question would depend in large measure on the problem of transport, and, as the Minister no doubt was aware, this was an important problem involving three times the amount of tonnage that had been used in the war in the Atlantic. This subject was not further pursued.
The President said to the Foreign Minister that he hoped to meet General de Gaulle in due course and that he would look forward with pleasure to such a meeting. Mr. Bidault replied that General de Gaulle would be happy to meet the President “anywhere, any time”.
The President then remarked that he had learned from the Acting Secretary of State of an anti-American campaign in the French press and he felt it might be helpful if the French people could be told some of the things that the United States is doing to help France in the way of supplies, as a result of which the American people have accepted reductions in their requirements of certain essential food items in order to permit increased shipments to the neighboring countries of Europe, including France, where they are so urgently needed. Priorities in transportation to France have also been arranged, despite American shortages in shipping, for French procurement of such supplies.
Mr. Bidault said that he was unaware of any such campaign as that of which the President spoke. I replied that the movement appeared to be recent and that reports from Paris just received indicated that the left wing of the French press was indulging in diatribes against the United States and we thought it might be helpful if the Foreign Minister would take occasion to counteract this campaign by telling the French people the facts regarding the assistance which the United States, at some sacrifice, is steadily sending them. Mr. Bidault remarked that he did not believe that the newspaper articles referred to represented the attitude of the French people but that in any [Page 690]case the French Government could not control the press any more than we could control it in the United States.
Mr. Bidault then said that he did not wish to presume too much on the President’s time, knowing how busy he was, but that on returning to France he wished to be in a position to report the attitude of the United States with regard to several problems and that he would therefore welcome the opportunity for another conference with the President. The President said that he would be glad to see the Minister at any time. No definite appointment was asked or made. The Minister then took his leave.
At one o’clock I gave a luncheon for Mr. Bidault, Mr. Billoux,61 the French Minister of Health, General Juin62 and others at the Blair House, during which Mr. Bidault arranged to call on me at the State Department for a conference at ten o’clock tomorrow morning.
- Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy.↩
- Mr. Bidault, a member of the French Delegation at the United Nations Conference at San Francisco, had come to Washington for a meeting with President Truman.↩
- Gen. Douglas MacArthur.↩
- François Billoux, Delegate to the United Nations Conference at San Francisco.↩
- Alphonse Juin, Chief of General Staff of National Defense in the Provisional Government of France, Delegate to United Nations Conference at San Francisco.↩