751S.00/11–2254: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France1


1876. Re: Mendes-France Talks:2 North Africa:

Re Cairo, Tetuan, Budapest broadcasts, Mendes requested US good offices in persuading Egypt and Spain cease inflammatory propaganda directed North African nationalists. Secretary stated our Ambassador Cairo had twice spoken to Egyptians and received assurances that tone of broadcasts would be moderated, but agreed to repeat admonition.

Mendes stated he would appreciate allusion in communiqué to mutual concern this situation and US intention to help. Mendes proposed reference to examination North African problem in spirit Article 4 NATO pact and decision to concert on matter, Secretary not disposed mention third countries this connection, even in general way, and believed prior consultation member states necessary before submitting question outside interference North Africa to NAC.

Secretary hoped early determined effort would be made by Mendes to conclude Tunisian negotiations and asked what plans he had for solving Moroccan problem. Mendes replied French had political, economic, social reforms prepared, but admitted speedy solution impossible because of crisis based on dynastic problem which would take [Page 182] time to solve. Reforms, he stated, would not be enough to stop unrest and Moroccan situation must mature.

Upon query, Mendes stated he had no intention referring to NA question in speech before UNGA November 22, since he did not wish give impression of being on defensive. Added he might mention outside provocations, if he touched on subject at all.

During lengthy discussions on communiqué Nov. 20, Mendes persevered in attempt include statement placing US in position of supporting France against outside intervention NA affairs. Mendes referred his commitments in recent parliamentary debate to raise with US. Secretary remarked that by bringing US into picture, French would transform NA to international problem instead domestic one as previously they maintained it to be. Secretary noted French had long considered Indo-China policy decisions purely domestic problem, but had sought international aid, which had not been satisfactory to US. He emphasized US could not give French blank check re NA policy, since we did not know French plans for area. If France expected allies to rally to support, Secretary asked why Arabs could not rally in opposition. It could not be international matter for one group alone.

To Mendes prolonged discussion on dangers to NATO security presented by NA crisis, Secretary reiterated position it unwise submit subject NAC without prior consultation other member states particularly since undoubted strong opposition certain member states might result in rebuff to French. French action would require careful study all members.

Following is original French proposal for NA section communiqué:

“The situation in NA was reviewed in light recent events, which have created obstacles to liberal policy inaugurated by French Government which it intends pursue.

External malevolent influences affecting situation NA and which compromise security this region were examined and it decided that two governments would study together means for combatting them. The question will be brought before NAC by French Government.”

Following is final language communiqué agreed after three hours discussion:3

“5. The Prime Minister reviewed the recent events in NA which created obstacles to the policy inaugurated by French Government. He nevertheless expressed the hope that proposals already made would lead to a prompt solution. He stressed external influences have affected situation in NA and compromised security this region. Secretary of State declared he would give serious consideration to the matter.”

  1. This telegram was drafted by Utter (AF) and cleared in S/S and WE. It was repeated to Cairo, London, Algiers, Casablanca, Tunis, Tangier, Rabat, and Madrid.
  2. French Premier Pierre Mendès-France arrived in Washington on Nov. 17 for talks with the President and Secretary of State. For additional documentation on his trip, see volume vi.
  3. For the full text of the communiqué issued at the conclusion of Mendès-France’s visit, see the Department of State Bulletin, Nov. 29, 1954, p. 804.