740.00119 Council/3–646: Telegram

The Assistant Secretary of State (Dunn) to the Secretary of State


2655. This is Delsec 243 from Dunn. When French frontier rectifications, (D) (46) 1545 (re Delsec 166, Feb 4)46 were again discussed at yesterday’s meeting of deputies French representative, in response to my question, stated categorically that with respect to No. 2, the Mont Cenis plateau, the Turin district did not benefit in any way from the water supply of the lake in this area. In answer to my further question whether French had considered limiting their claims in No. 4 to the watershed west of the Tenda–Briga Valley, Couve stated [Page 24] that his govt attached considerable importance to this claim in the light of the difficulties which it had experienced because the Italians had often prevented the water supply from reaching the hydro-electric plant at Fontan in the Roya Valley. If French claims in this area were met the French Govt was fully prepared to make an arrangement which would permit continued use of the three small hydro-electric plants by Italian consumers.

Soviet representative stated that he was not yet in a position to express an opinion on French claims. British and ourselves agreed to Nos. 1 and 3. Although the British representative agreed to No. 2 I stated that in the light of the French explanation with respect to the Mont Cenis Lake I was prepared to give further study to this matter. I agreed to the British suggestion that the area west of the Tenda Briga area should be ceded to France but stated further study would be required in respect to the remainder of the French claim in this area. British reserved for further study their opinion in respect to Tenda and Briga but were prepared to cede the southern sector thus eliminating the Italian salient near Sospel.

I feel that the French explanation with respect to No. 2 does away with difficulty in respect to the transfer of this area to France and could be accepted.

As regards Tenda and Briga, we have informally urged upon French delegation the importance of reaching a satisfactory settlement, if possible, direct with the Italian Govt. The Dept may wish to continue to endeavor to bring the two govts together for a direct settlement of this claim outside of the treaty discussions, as in this way it is felt that any possible cession would be easier for the Italian Govt to accept.

As the Dept is aware, the French have already reduced their claims considerably, particularly in the Val d’Aosta and also in the neighborhood of Bardonecchia where at one time they hoped to obtain possession of the entire Mont Cenis tunnel. The difficulties which they had continually experienced in respect to the water supply to Fontan have been a source of friction in this area for many years and some adjustment of the water supply in the Roya Valley in favor of the French would seem reasonable, particularly as the towns involved are primarily French in their sentiment and the population does apparently not exceed approximately 5,000.

An early indication of the Dept’s views would be appreciated.

  1. Reference here is to the memorandum by the French Delegation, C.F.M. (D) (46) 15, February 4, 1946, p. 10.
  2. Reference here is to telegram 1351, Delsec 166, February 4, from London, not printed, which described the frontier rectifications proposed by the French Delegation in the memorandum cited in the previous footnote (740.00119 Council/2–446).