751S.00/12–1554: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Dillon) to the Department of State1


2549. Fezzan situation discussed again with Foreign Office and following appear principal elements present French position:

Clear evidence unpopularity Mendes-France liberal North African policy as shown in last weeks’ Assembly debate has reinforced his determination follow fairly firm line for Fezzan. Foreign Office says possibility government might fall on this issue. Right wing attacks taking line Mendes-France is following up loss of Indochina, evacuation of French establishments India and weak-kneed policy Tunisia with evacuation of Fezzan and calling him “Prime Minister of desertion”.
In any event French not now planning any new moves on Fezzan. Foreign Office says Mendes-France has decided to sit tight until termination present NATO meeting and he gets debate on ratification Paris agreement out of way next week.
Long-term French position obviously not worked out though Foreign Office reiterates that while French Government will not evacuate Fezzan on December 31 there is possibility departure French forces could be worked out in negotiation. Acceptance of principle Libyans have right expel French might also be accepted.
Mendes-France position made somewhat more difficult by interview with Libyan Prime Minister appearing tonight’s Le Monde in which latter quoted as saying Libya has no need of alliance with France since it already has one with UK. Foreign Office fears this interview will give rise Assembly interpellation regarding French policy Fezzan from right wing deputies.
Other French sources here admit problem relatively secondary in importance to France but like North African problem touches French sensitivity especially since Fezzan remembered as dramatic conquest of Marshal Leclerc during war.

  1. This telegram was repeated to Tripoli.