239. Telegram From Embassy in France to the Department of State2
4092. Re Tunis 101 to Department.3 During conversation with Seydoux today I raised question of possible US grant of wheat to relieve threat of famine in Tunisia. I said that we did not want to do anything which could possibly embarrass French but that I wondered if in view of damage to 1956 French wheat crop the situation had not changed so that France would welcome an offer of wheat for Tunisia. Seydoux replied that he wished to be very frank with me. He said there was need of wheat in Tunisia and that he had felt it would be a good idea for this wheat to be supplied by US in conjunction with France. He said that on arrival in Paris he had found Savary very much opposed to any American assistance in Tunisia at this particular time. Savary felt that it would greatly weaken his position in negotiations that are presently under way in Tunis if the Tunisians felt they could get material or financial support elsewhere whenever it was required. Savary told Seydoux that this was merely a temporary position valid only during the period of the negotiations. In the long run Savary told Seydoux he fully recognized both necessity and advisability of US assistance for Tunisia.
Seydoux then admitted that French had been slow themselves in meeting the need because of the change of government4 but he said that day before yesterday Ramadier had officially assured Tahar Ben [Page 649] Ammar that France would supply 50,000 quintals of wheat a month for next five months for a total of 250,000 quintals.5 Seydoux said that this met demands of Tunisian Government in full. He said that in view of this promise Tunisian Government was moving immediately to start distribution of wheat from their small remaining reserve stocks in Tunis, relying on French Government replace these stocks.
In view of above it appears there is no purpose in further pursuing the matter of US grant of wheat to Tunisia.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 872.49/3–756. Secret. Repeated to Tunis.↩
- Telegram 101, March 6, reported that an opportunity existed for private U.S. organizations to make food grants to Tunisia in cooperation with similar French agencies. (Ibid., 872.49/3–656)↩
- Mollet succeeded Faure, whose government fell January 31, 1956.↩
- Paul Ramadier, French Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs. A quintal was the equivalent of a 100 kilograms.↩