The Director of the Office of African Affairs (Bourgerie) to the American Diplomatic Agent and Consul General in Tangier (Plitt)


Dear Ed: We have been giving further thought to the recommendation contained in Section A(1) (b) of the Tangier Conference Report which stated that at the appropriate time we consider approaching the Spanish Government with an offer to recognize the Spanish Zone of Morocco de facto, but that we maintain our capitulatory and other existing treaty rights.1 The Embassy at Madrid has informally asked the Department if we wish them to take any action on this matter. However, we have suggested that the Embassy take no action until we have given this matter further consideration.

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Since recognition of the Spanish Zone will immediately raise questions concerning United States treaty rights there, we are now inclined to think that we should defer approaching the Spanish Government on this matter until such time as our present dispute with the French over our treaty rights in Morocco has been settled by the International Court of Justice.

Once our treaty position in Morocco has been defined by the Court, we would be in a better position to formulate the position which we should take on this point vis-à-vis the Spanish Protectorate. Spain would, undoubtedly, be unwilling to recognize our rights while they are in the process of definition by the Court.

Further, in light of the repercussions resulting from the Sultan’s trip to Paris,2 and the apparent upsurge in nationalist sentiment in Morocco, it would not appear to be opportune at this time to take any action which might further alienate Nationalist feeling toward the United States. Finally, because of the limited number of Americans in Spanish Morocco and the fact that there is but little commercial activity there now on the part of Americans, it would not appear to be urgent that we act on this matter at this time. In the event that our strategic interests in the area increase markedly, which does not now appear to be likely, we would, of course, have to reconsider our position.

I know that you have some very specific views on this problem. I would, therefore, appreciate having your comments on the subject in the light of developments which have taken place since the Tangier Conference.

Sincerely yours,

E. H. Bourgerie
  1. The formal report on the Northern African Diplomatic and Consular Conference at Tangier, Morocco, October 2–7, is not printed, but for a summary report, see Assistant Secretary of State McGhee’s memorandum of November 6, to the Secretary of State, p. 1573.
  2. The Sultan of Morocco, Sidi Mohammed ben-Youssef, paid an official visit to France in October and November 1950 (see despatch 1244, November 17, p. 1762). There were extensive negotiations during the visit regarding possible administrative reforms in Morocco, but no agreement was reached.