880.00/4–2948: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic and Consular Missions in Europe and North Africa1

top secret

We believe conference North African political problems patterned after one held last year2 would now be useful and profitable to all concerned. We have tentatively scheduled such conference to be held in Paris on May 24 as secretly as possible. It would be attended by principal officers from North African posts, plus representatives from Embs at Paris and Cairo, Consul designate to Tripoli, US Delegate Four Power Commission Investigation Former Italian Colonies,3 and representatives from Western European and African Divisions Dept. Most important items of agenda would be as follows:

Effects on political situation French North Africa of such steps as have been taken since last year as result our pressing French for more far-sighted policy toward Tunisia, Morocco, and to lesser extent, Algeria.
Suggestions for further implementation of a policy of encouraging French and North Africans reach general entente which will result in political stability and ultimate good of France and North Africa.
Best estimate effects on French North Africa of following possible solutions for final disposition Libya:
Independence of a United Libya.
Brit trusteeship over Cyrenaica and Italian trusteeship over Tripolitania.
Brit trusteeship over both Cyrenaica and Tripolitania (whether single trusteeship over United Libya or individual trusteeships over two separate areas).
Other possible solutions such as American, Arab League or Egyptian trusteeship.
French control (possibly under trusteeship agreement) over Fezzan in any or all of above cases.

Conference should bear in mind that (a) to date, France have favored Italian trusteeship over Tripolitania because they fear that [Page 690] either independence or Brit trusteeship would have disturbing effects on French North Africa and make French control there much more difficult; (b) almost all info available to Dept indicates majority Tripolitanians will oppose by means at their disposal return Italian administration and (c) any trusteeship agreements may contain specified time limit for independence of territories. Even if they do not, it will probably be made very clear that object of trusteeship is prepare area for independence in shortest possible time.

Steps which (a) French should take, (b) will probably take, to minimize as much as possible political effects on French North Africa of above possible solutions for final disposition Libya.
There have been increasing indications North African Nationalists, in collaboration with Arab League, will make serious attempt this year present case of North Africa, or some part thereof, to General Assembly. Discuss probability and present best estimate of how case may be prepared, what Conference thinks French position will be, and what it thinks US position should be.

Sent Paris 1448 and Tangier as 100; rptd Rabat 4, Casablanca 29, Algiers 58, Tunis 34, Cairo 480, London 1528. Your comments are invited.

  1. Addressed to the diplomatic missions in France, Tangier, the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Morocco, and to the consular posts at Algiers, Casablanca, Rabat, and Tunis.
  2. For a report on the conference held at Paris, June 16–19, 1947, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, pp. 690698.
  3. For documentation on United States policy regarding the former Italian colonies, see pp. 891 ff.