357.AG/2–2050: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Bruce ) to the Secretary of State

786. Pelt had several conversations with officials FonOff (Couve, Margerie1, Tour du Pin and Balay2) on February 16, 17 and 18. He [Page 1607] informed us that while the French appeared to be conciliatory and wished to accommodate their views as far as possible to his, they were in effect non-committal. Pelt sensed that underlying French position was determination to acquire for Ahmed Bey in Fezzan same status as Emir in Cyrenaica. When Pelt proposed formation administrative council with Ahmed Bey as head and other members assuming specific responsibilities without actually carrying titles of Ministers, he states that Margerie expressed belief that there appeared to be little difference of opinion. However, when Pelt asked that French give him written statement of their position, he was told that FonOff could not prepare and clear such paper on ministerial level in so short a time but that he would receive document in New York or possibly during his stay next week in London. The upshot of the talks here was that Massigli3 has been instructed to continue discussions with Pelt in London. Pelt is of opinion that Massigli will be empowered to make concessions no more nor less than those made by British, and that his talks in London will assume a tricornered aspect.

On morning February 18 Pelt had three-quarter hour talk with Minister Interior Queuille, and told us before leaving that he had received a bombshell. During conversation Minister who has final responsibility administration of Fezzan through Algerian Governor General remarked that recent election of Ahmed Bey by Fezzanese tribes was a virtual declaration of independence. Pelt stated that he immediately challenged this statement, and was convinced that Queuille was digging political trenches in expectation of onslaught by critics in National Assembly.

Pelt said that one of minister’s assistants had reassured him aside, and later Tour du Pin categorically affirmed that Queuille was giving his own personal opinion which was not that of the French Government. Pelt told us that he had tried to have audience with Bidault but latter had already left for speaking engagement at St. Etienne.

Briefly, Pelt left Paris without reaching any firm conclusions with French, but with assurances that Massigli would finish negotiations commenced in Paris, probably with the aid of text furnished by FonOff, and with liberty to make concessions consistent with those made by British. We hope have FonOff version discussions shortly.4

Repeated London 251, Rome 57; Department pass Tripoli 12.

  1. Roland Jacquin de Margerie, head of African and Levant Affairs, French Foreign Office.
  2. Georges Balay, French Representative on the Advisory Council.
  3. Rene Massigli, French Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
  4. On February 23 Bruce reported that Tour du Pin had confirmed Pelt’s account of his conversations with the French. Telegram 869, from Paris, not printed (357.AG/2–2350).