762.022/12–1654: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Dillon) to the Department of State 1


2576. Four developments yesterday seemed make position Mendes-France Government more difficult.

  • First was tenor of Bundestag debate Paris agreements with particular reference to Saar, which is giving rise to some uncertainty here. Since it is certain French will not implement Paris Agreements separately [Page 1503] from Saar Accord (Embtel 25472) and since ratification Saar settlement in Germany appears doubtful some French are beginning to wonder whether there may not be unforeseen delays in getting operation under way. On assumption Assembly will ratify next week, Franco-German talks on Saar could take place thereafter but before Council of Republic action and second reading Bundestag. Nevertheless progress German debate thus far not helpful to Mendes-France in that spotlight is thrown on fact his European policy as exemplified by Paris Agreements may be in some danger.
  • Second, Assembly coordinating committee for Indochina yesterday advised Le Troquer of Committee’s desire for full-scale debate on Indochina end this week when civil budget for associated states which has already been rejected by finance committee is scheduled for discussion. It is reported Mendes-France will pose question of confidence this issue, as authorized by Cabinet, before debate on ratification Paris Agreements. Consensus seems to be that if steering committee proposes tomorrow Indochina debate be held before ratification debate, opposition may attempt stave off proposal on technical grounds. We believe opposition would prefer face government with difficult and possibly fatal Indochina debate after ratification accomplished and Mendes-France identified with it, rather than before.3
  • Third, bombing attacks against nationalist elements Tunisia have been unfortunate anti-climax to successful Fellagah amnesty campaign and will, as its unknown authors undoubtedly intended, largely nullify good effect this bold effort. Furthermore questions are beginning to be asked as to whether any progress Tunisian negotiations can be expected soon, and rightwing elements continue harass government heavily on this issue. Members of Mendes-France entourage have even alleged to us Gaullist and independent elements are supporting terrorism in Tunisia to create atmosphere where government can no longer negotiate.
  • Finally, Bidault–Mitterand feud which has been smoldering for months burst into public view yesterday when Mitterand took step of proposing “jury of honor” examine accusations made against Minister of Interior by Bidault when latter made his deposition on “leaks case”. While if all dirty linen were washed in public, opposition might well be just as embarrassed as Government, effect Mitterand’s step at this time will be to start up political gossip again on major scale and incumbent regime presumably always suffers more from such public scandal than the “outs”.4

None of above elements is decisive but their occurrence all one day cannot but further add to Mendes-France discouragement. Postponement Indochina debate would be ominous for life of government in [Page 1504] sense it would add further difficult debate to already dangerous budgetary debates, though it would remove one hurdle between now and ratification debate.

  1. Repeated to bonn and London.
  2. Not printed: it reported that as a result of Adenauer’s presentation of the Saar Agreement to the Bundestag on Dec. 15, Mendès-France now considered it essential that the French National Assembly make ratification of the Paris Agreements and the Saar Agreement “one package” (762.022/12–1554).
  3. Documentation concerning Indochina is presented in volume xiii .
  4. For further documentation on this subject, see volume vi .