740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–1549: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom

us urgent

875. Deptel 820, Mar 111. Fol is for your guidance re Kehl issue. We wld prefer deferment discussion on Kehl until thorough exploration of trizonal fusion principles but leave handling in your discretion.

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Gen framework of US approach to Kehl problem remains as indicated in Deptels 488, Feb 10,2 and 820, Mar 11. If a joint administration of ports of Strasbourg and Kehl will contribute to economic cooperation between Ger and Fr and other countries affected, US Govt wld of course welcome such joint admin. If proposed Strasbourg–Kehl port authority is to be effective instrument of economic cooperation, organization and administrative arrangements of joint authority must be satisfactory to both Fr and Ger as well as other countries with an interest in Rhine navigation. US is not yet convinced that there is compelling econ justification for joint admin of Strasbourg–Kehl ports. However, US retains open mind on subject and wld naturally accept solution which took proper account of interests of countries concerned and was satisfactory to them.

US is profoundly concerned lest a scheme for admin of Strasbourg–Kehl ports be established, which will be unsatisfactory to either Fr or Gers and hence become a continuing source of friction. US considers possible importance of such friction in light of likelihood that Strasbourg will be designated as seat of Council of Europe. Great city of Strasbourg, standing as it does on frontier of Fr and Ger, wld appear an excellent location for Council of Eur. It wld be most unfortunate if role Strasbourg might play in this larger conception of a European association to which we are all dedicated, were to be jeopardized by petty friction and aggravation which cld so readily be generated by an ineffectual or one-sided port authority.

Re Fr proposal in urtel 614, Feb 17,3 exclusive Fr police jurisdiction in Kehl port zone, inclusion of Kehl port in Fr customs area and exclusive use of Fr monetary system are unacceptable, since tantamount in fact to outright annexation of Kehl port zone. Mixed comm, serving primarily in advisory capacity to Fr port admin, moreover with ratio of one Ger member to three Fr, would give Gers little voice in protection of legitimate Ger interests. Six hundred million francs which Fr claim to have already spent on Kehl reconstruction appears very small sum in comparison with US and UK expenditures in support Ger econ. Re proposal further Fr expenditures, we believe reconstruction of Kehl port facilities might be appropriate project to be financed by ECA counterpart funds.

US position is that Fr Mil Govt Ordinance 163 cannot remain in force under Occ Stat. You shld not hesitate to indicate US Govt’s sup-prise to learn of unilateral issuance of ordinance, particularly in view of its date, July 6, 1948, after Six-Power agreement had been reached on London Program which had provided for close association of three Mil Govrs upon which Fr have repeatedly insisted re affairs of Bizone.

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US Govt does not object, however, to continued residence by Fr in Kehl during four year period required for preparation additional housing in Strasbourg for Fr temporarily domiciled Kehl. Evacuation of one-third of Kehl within several months as proposed wld appear desirable and Fr formula for gradual return Kehl city to Ger admin acceptable.

In connection with preceding para, suggest Fr Mil Govt, with assistance of Strasbourg port authorities, maintain jurisdiction over Kehl port zone until establishment of provisional Ger Govt and conclusion of negots re joint port authority.

Fr and provisional Ger Govt, under auspices of Central Rhine Comm, shall undertake negots for the establishment of a mutually satisfactory joint port authority. Participation of provisional Ger Govt in negots will as a matter of foreign affairs, in accordance with Occ Stat, be under direction of Mil Govrs. You may state that US will naturally recognize preponderance of Strasbourg port over Kehl and hence of Fr interest over Ger interest in any joint port authority and wld accept that manager be of Fr nationality under Central Rhine Comm as in Article 65 of Versailles Treaty. Any arrangement for joint port shld in our opinion provide for appeals to CRC or other appropriate body by any country with grievance respecting admin of port.

Future reconstruction of port facilities of Kehl might properly be be financed by ECA counterpart funds and Dept wld be prepared support such proposal with ECA.

Any arrangement agreed upon for joint port authority wld be reviewed at time of peace settlement. If port authority develops harmoniously, and ensures econ interests of Fr, Ger and other affected countries, US will at negot of peace settlement, bring attitude of good will establishment permanent joint port authority.

Although we wld strongly prefer negots between Fr and provisional Ger Govt, in order to reach overall agreement with Fr on Occ Stat, trizonal fusion principles as well as Kehl, we wld be prepared to accept negots between Govt Land Baden and Prefect of Bas–Rhin to be approved by three Mil Govrs and by Fr Govt as set forth in Brit proposal urtel 486, Feb 8.4 Believe such negots shld also be under auspices Central Rhine Comm.5

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Ante, p. 42.
  4. Not printed.
  5. In telegram 881, March 16, to London, not printed, the Department of State advised Holmes to bear in mind when presenting the United States views on Kehl that French jurisdiction over Kehl should have a reasonable duration. Holmes was also instructed to leave open the possibility of a mixed commission at the head of the port authority with the manager of French nationality, since the United States did not want to prejudice the form of the port authority before negotiations between the French and Germans. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–1649)