851.20/10–1249: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France

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3890. Eyes only for Amb. Yesterday we initiated discussions with French Counselor Daridan and Gen Ely1 on mil facilities in Fr territory. Lt Gen Gruenther represented Dept of Defense in these initial talks. Substance conversation fols:

We directed attention to close informal cooperation which has existed between US and Fr Reps in polit field during Atlantic Pact negots and subsequent implementation. We expressed confidence that similar spirit of cooperation will obtain in mil field. Certain problems of politico-mil nature which will be worked out in detail in Atlantic Pact planning but on which certain immed steps shld be undertaken include question of mil facilities in Fr territory. Question of what facilities shld be estabd or maintained in Atlantic Pact area in order to contribute to common defense will be treated in its entirety under Pact. However, US has been reviewing question and believes immed steps indicated with respect certain mil facilities which US considers necessary to enable it to be in a position to discharge effectively its obligations under Pact. We desired at outset to outline our ideas in gen terms and arrange for detailed discussions in near future. As an indication of our thinking there are certain requirements with respect Fr North African territory which require study. For example, removal of existing restrictions on landings at Port Lyautey and other fields in North Africa; estab and maintenance of certain other mil facilities at various points in North Africa; stockpiling certain items such as POL supplies, rations, ammunition, etc. at certain points in North Africa; review of existing arrangements with respect facilities in Fr territories in Pacific; standardizing air transit agreements with respect all Atlantic Pact countries. In metropolitan Fr we are interested in making provision for a line of communications across Fr to our forces in Ger. It is recognized that in case of conflict our present line from Bremerhaven might become unusable, hence need for additional lines to West and South. Proposed LOC across Fr wld be operated on more or less skeleton basis for time being, handling approx 20% of our supply to Ger. In connection with this line of communications we wld wish to stockpile certain materials, e.g., POL, rations, etc. in certain Fr port areas and other LOC centers (as Fr have indicated hope we wld do). We mentioned financial arrangements for such facilities and said we were not in a position to discuss these in detail but hoped in near future to be able to indicate what US wld pay and what we wld expect Fr to pay.

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We suggested that this talk shld be followed by detailed conversations with appropriate officers of Gen Ely’s staff and of Emb beginning next week. Gen. Ely and Daridan were obviously pleased with exposition and stated their govt’s belief that these and allied questions shld have immed attn. They promised full cooperation and said they wld be ready begin detailed discussions at any time. Ely indicated his agreement with our thinking on most points raised during conversation.2 Whole atmosphere one of working together in common interest.

We mentioned MAP bilateral agreements and said we expected have draft ready for them within few days. We said present discussions had been initiated in order make clear that mil facilities we sought were in no way a quid pro quo for US mil assistance but rather facilities which we believe necessary to enable us to fulfill our responsibilities toward common defense under Pact. We emphasized necessity for devotion to principle of mutual aid as affecting all countries under Pact. Fr expressed appreciation for manner in which question was being handled and agreed wholeheartedly that mutual aid must be keynote.

FYI we are undertaking similar discussions during next few days with other countries in whose territory we desire facilities. We hope Fr will lead way in reaching satisfactory agreements for mil facilities. Success of operation depends to large extent on example which they set as to mutual aid and cooperation. We shall keep you informed currently.

  1. Gen. Paul H. R. Ely, French member of the NATO Standing Group.
  2. Detailed discussions were carried on in Washington and Paris, and on December 12 Embassy Paris reported that French military authorities had completed a preliminary staff study and that survey teams were expected to begin work soon (telegrams 4092 to Paris, October 27, 2 p. m., and 5204 from Paris, December 12, 5 p. m., 851.20/10–2749, 12–1249).