Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Secretary of State

The French Ambassador59 called on me this afternoon at his request and referred to a report, the source of which he did not mention, to the effect that the Soviet Union and the United States were both opposed to the claim of France to a privileged position in Syria and the Lebanon. In reply I asked the Ambassador whether I should regard his inquiry as an official démarche or whether he was merely exploring this subject informally. The Ambassador stated that his inquiry was entirely of an informal nature but that he wished to register the fact that if the United States had taken a position of opposition to the enjoyment by France of a privileged position in Syria and the Lebanon, his Government would greatly regret such a position on our part. I said that the term “privileged position” was of a very general nature and open to the widest interpretations. The Ambassador spoke of France’s traditional interest in those countries especially from a moral and cultural point of view and said that this tradition justified his Government in claiming such a privileged position. I reminded the Ambassador that we had recognized the independence of both Syria and Lebanon, to which the Ambassador assented. I said that in view of the Ambassador’s inquiry I would look into this matter and, in accordance with his request, would consider whether I might wish at some future opportunity to express an opinion on the point which he had raised.

Joseph C. Grew
  1. Henri Bonnet.