CFM Files: Lot M 88: Box 158: WFM Sept 1951, US–FR MIN


United States Minutes of the First Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the United States and France, Washington, 3:30 p.m., September 11, 1951

U.S.-Fr. Min-1


Mr. Acheson (U.S.)

M. Schuman (Fr)

Also Present

u.s. france
Mr. Harriman M. Bonnet
Mr. Jessup M. Alphand
Mr. Perkins M. de Margerie
Mr. Bruce

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11. Noting that the Resident-General in Morocco was directly under the Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Schuman emphasized his direct interest and responsibility for Morocco. He had been concerned in early 1951 when he received a note from the U.S. to the effect that it would be difficult, or even impossible, to support France if the Moroccan question were raised before the U.N.2 He thought that it would be best to have a frank, friendly discussion before the Moroccan question became an issue of open debate. He would not, however, discuss the legal status of U.S. citizens in Morocco, since that question was presently before the Hague Tribunal and France would of course loyally adhere to any decision which was reached.3

12. He was pleased to recognize and emphasize the important role that Marshall Plan aid had played in Morocco and to note that the relations between the Moroccans, the French and the Americans with respect to the military bases were very good.

13. He did not need to discuss in detail the content of the two memoranda of September 6 in which the French Government had set forth [Page 1388] its attitude with respect to communism and nationalism in Morocco and the political evolution of Morocco (WFM F-4/1, September 8, 19514). Instead he wished to describe present French policy which was opposite to the old colonial concept of the pre-1914 period. France would make a modern democratic state of Morocco. This was the purpose of the reforms of General Juin and of the new Resident-General, General Guillaume. The latter had received specific instructions to undertake additional reforms. France, however, could not impose these reforms but had to persuade the Sultan to accept them. Unfortunately the Sultan did not favor democracy, and since he was an absolute sovereign, he did not renounce his prerogatives easily. Moreover, the Berbers were also feudal and medieval in their point of view and were opposed to democracy. In addition, the European and Jewish colonies needed to be brought into a cohesive whole of Moroccan life. The Istiqlal, the anti-French opposition, was not interested in democracy and sought a representative assembly only in the hope of eliminating the French from Morocco. In undertaking necessary reorganization of the social structure, the reforms were directed to municipal improvement. They had evoked resistance but he hoped soon to get results.

14. In this policy France should not be isolated from the U.S. Neither the Sultan nor the Istiqlal should find a difference between the two countries. There was of course freedom for journalists to come to Morocco and freedom for Moroccans to travel abroad. Events of relative unimportance, such as a broadcast by Bourghiba from London, could be greatly exaggerated in Morocco. As to the communists in Morocco, they should not be confused with the nationalists. The two elements were entirely separate, but they could form a temporary alliance for their own purposes. Thus, the nationalists might try to use communist labor unions to create disorder.

15. As to the possibility that the Moroccan question might be placed before the U.N. by a member of the Arab League, M. Schuman asked the U.S. to discourage such action. Such a public discussion would not aid the situation in Morocco. Passions would be inflamed and it would be more difficult to make progress with the proposed reforms. At present there was no great difficulty in Morocco. General Guillaume was close to the Sultan and it was hoped that he would be able to influence him. If a debate did develop in the U.N., France and the U.S. should discuss their common attitude. At this point he had no specific ideas concerning exactly what should be done. France recognized its responsibility to lead Morocco forward toward independence in the French Union. This would be done in the same spirit as it had been done in Indochina. He appreciated the opportunity to explore [Page 1389] this problem which was of common strategic interest and in which the two countries had a common stake in an ordered, democratic regime.

16. Mr. Acheson said that the interests of France and the U.S. in Morocco were identical and that the two countries should work in close relationship. He appreciated the French assistance in making military facilities available. He would not want to hurt the position of France. He agreed that Morocco was not ready for independence and that it was the role of France to guide these people toward independence. In this effort he wished to be helpful. He also agreed that no useful purpose would be served by bringing the question before the U.N. and he would use such limited influence as he had to discourage such a step. He would study what had been said and would try to work out a common attitude if the question of Morocco came before the U.N. He observed that nationalist agitation merited careful consideration, as indeed the French were giving it, since such agitation was often used to direct attention away from local problems. He welcomed the offer of M.Schuman for further discussion of this question and thought perhaps this should be worked out.

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  1. For the complete text of U.S.-Fr. Min-1, see vol. iii, pt. 1, p. 1249.
  2. The note under reference here has not been identified further; however in circular telegram 532, dated March 7, the Department of State informed Embassy Paris, inter alia, that subsequent to General Juin’s visit to Washington (see telegram 260, February 2, p. 1371) it had been made clear to the French in Washington, Paris, and Rabat, that the United States would not be able to support France if the Arab League brought the Moroccan issue before the United Nations. (771.00/3–51)
  3. The Franco-American dispute over licensing practices in French Morocco had been referred by France to the International Court of Justice on October 28, 1950.
  4. Not printed. WFM F-4/1 consists of copies of the two memoranda referred to by Schuman. (Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: CF 88)