Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of African Affairs (Villard)

Participants: Mr. Francis Lacoste, Counselor of the French Embassy.
Mr. Loy W. Henderson, Director, NEA.31
Mr. Henry S. Villard, Chief, AF.
[Page 616]

Mr. Lacoste called at Mr. Henderson’s request to receive the Department’s reply32 to the French views on the future administration of Tangier as contained in the French Embassy’s note of May 29, 1945. The Department’s note which was handed to Mr. Lacoste stated that this Government was not favorably disposed to the restoration of the 1923 Statute, but that we would like to see a conference of the interested powers for the purpose of establishing a new international regime. Meanwhile, we felt that a temporary occupation of the Zone by American, British, French and perhaps Spanish forces would be desirable, and that conversations should be held in London with regard to the interim government to be set up.

Mr. Lacoste said that he did not know how his government would react to these statements, but that he thought the Sultan of Morocco might wish to be consulted in regard to anything so drastic as a joint military occupation of the International Zone. It was pointed out that since France acted for the Sultan in foreign affairs there would certainly be no objection to his being consulted in the premises.

Mr. Henderson observed that we felt it would be desirable to inform the Russians fully as to what we were doing, particularly as Russia was a signatory of the act of Algeciras. Mr. Lacoste did not appear to relish the thought that the Russians might wish to participate in the future administration of the International Zone. Mr. Lacoste was also informed that we would propose to issue a declaration of some kind to the effect that the rights of all interested powers would be safeguarded pending the establishment of a new regime.

It was carefully explained to Mr. Lacoste that the proposed meeting in London between representatives of the British, French and American Governments would be for the purpose of discussing ways and means of instituting an interim regime only, and not to decide upon the future status of the Zone in its final form. The latter objective could be achieved later on at an international conference at which all the interested powers would be represented.

Although Mr. Lacoste seemed inclined to feel that Shereefian troops under French direction could handle the interim problem without American assistance, it was likewise made clear to him that we thought it desirable for the military operation to be a joint affair for American, British and French forces, with the possibility of a small number of Spanish troops. Mr. Lacoste said that he would transmit our reply to his government.

Henry S. Villard
  1. Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs.
  2. Note of June 9 from the Acting Secretary of State to the French Ambassador, p. 614.