Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Bonbright)1


Subject: Egyptian Complaint in UN on Moroccan Question

Participants: Secretary of State;
M. Bonnet, French Ambassador;
UNA—Mr. Hickerson
EUR—Mr. Bonbright
Mr. van Laethem, French Embassy

Mr. Bonnet stated that he appreciated how busy the Secretary was preparatory to his departure for the GA tomorrow but he had been instructed by Mr. Schuman to see the Secretary once again on the Moroccan question. He said that in Paris they had looked at this [Page 145] problem from every angle and had reached certain conclusions as to their line of action whether or not they lost their fight to prevent the Moroccan question from being placed on the agenda. He said that in the first place the French Government was determined to fight against the placing of this question on the agenda even if they became convinced that they would lose the fight. However, they had recently received encouraging news on this score. Under the leadership of Mr. Maurice Schumann, all French Chiefs of Mission in Latin America have been meeting in Rio and it is the consensus of opinion of this group that there is a reasonable hope of having many of the Latin American countries support the French thesis provided they do not feel that the United States will be on the other side. The Ambassador felt that the Latin countries were deeply disturbed by recent events in the Near East. They fear a further split between the West and the Arab countries; they appreciate the strategic importance of North Africa; and they are worried over any tendency of the UN to intervene in matters of domestic concern to member states. The French hope is that if there is a chance of winning this fight on procedural grounds, the United States will side with France. On the other hand, if it should become clear that they could not win this fight, the French would understand if some of their friends abstained on this procedural point.

If the French lose the procedural battle, they attach the greatest importance to obtaining active U.S. support at the Committee stage and in the Assembly. The French will say that they will not accept any resolution which the Assembly may pass and they would like us also to oppose any resolution no matter how mildly worded. They feel that unless the question is defeated on jurisdictional grounds, the Arab States will be encouraged to raise the question again next year and in succeeding years. Mr. Bonnet stated, however, that the French will make a positive statement on their work in Morocco which they will maintain as in full conformity with Chapter XI. Following the statement of the French case, the French delegation will abstain from further discussion reserving the right at the end of the proceedings to answer any attacks which may develop in the course of the debate. The French want the U.S. delegation to support the French statement regarding their achievements in Morocco.

The Secretary interrupted at this point to say that he unfortunately had another engagement, but before terminating the interview, he wished to state briefly the U.S. position: He said that on the procedural question the U.S. will abstain, a course which we have never taken before in such a situation. If the matter is placed on the agenda, the Secretary stated that we will support the French on the merits of the case. He said that he personally could not conceive of any resolution to which the United States would give its support. In any event [Page 146] the U.S. would vote against any condemnatory resolution or a resolution setting up a committee of investigation.

The Ambassador returned to the charge and pointed out that while the Secretary’s statement about abstaining would meet the French point in the event that the procedural question was lost, it would not meet the French hopes in the event that there was a chance of winning the procedural fight. He urged the Secretary to reconsider our position in that event. The Secretary said that he would think the matter over but that it would not do any good, since we could not go any further on this point.

We then left the Secretary’s office and continued the discussion briefly in EUR where we were joined by Mr. Wainhouse of UNA.2 Nothing new of importance developed except that the Ambassador returned to the question of the Latin American vote and urged us to send a circular to our people in the area giving them our position. Mr. Hickerson and I said that we saw no reason why this could not be done.

Copies in translation of the note left by the Ambassador are attached.3

J[ames] C. H. B[onbright]
  1. Initialed by John D. Hickerson, Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs, with whom Bonbright cleared the text of the memorandum. In a chit to Mr. Hickerson, Bonbright explained that he had not made the memorandum of conversation in the first person (that is, by the Secretary of State himself), due to the Secretary’s departure for Paris (on October 25) (771.00/10–2451). The Secretary of State headed the U.S. Delegation to the General Assembly.
  2. David W. Wainhouse, Director of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs.
  3. The lengthy note formulated a French position in light of certain contingencies that might arise at Paris; not printed (771.00/10–2451).