240. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1
4158. When I saw Savary this morning I told him that I had come to receive further information on the serious and unfortunate incident at Tunis2 and also to hear anything he might have to say on the subject. Savary replied by expressing his personal regrets and those of the French Government for the unpardonable acts. Savary also said that the French Government would of course pay for the entire cost of repairs to the damage that had been done.
Savary then went on to say that he had received a brief report from Seydoux and that according to this report the situation had been very serious. Apparently Seydoux had narrowly missed severe physical injury or possible death at the hands of the mob. He owed his safety to the energetic action of the police who had protected him from the mob. Savary said that this was one good piece of news in the whole affair as the French police in Tunis are recruited locally and might have been assumed to be strongly partisan to the local French population. I then told Savary that we had received word [Page 650] from the Consulate in Tunis, that unfortunately the police had not shown the same attitude in protecting the American Consulate and the Information Center. Savary said that he had not heard of this aspect of the matter as yet but he assured me that he would order a full inquiry into the actions of the police.
Savary then told me that immediately after my departure from his office he would call in AFP and issue a statement saying that he had received me in order to express formal regrets of the French Government over this affair.3
Comment: I feel that this regrettable incident is an extreme manifestation of the widespread feeling that the United States has been unsympathetic to France in North Africa. I expect the French Government, which is obviously seriously disturbed by this occurrence, to give us every satisfaction possible and I would hope that we would promptly accept the French expression of regret and the offer to repay US for damages, with a view to letting the matter die as rapidly as possible.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 122.954/3–1056. Confidential; Niact. Repeated to Tunis.↩
- Telegrams 103 and 104 from Tunis, both dated March 9, reported attacks that evening by a mob of French demonstrators on the Consulate General and USIS offices. (Ibid., 122.954/3–956)↩
- Telegram 105 from Tunis, March 10, indicated that Seydoux called in Hughes to offer a similar apology. (Ibid., 122.9542/3–1056)↩