293. Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the Secretary of State and the Ambassador in France (Houghton), November 13, 1957, 8:45 p.m.1

Ambassador Houghton said that he and the UK Chargé had called on Gaillard. Gaillard said he was bound by a “unanimous and spontaneous” Cabinet decision. He would, however, try again to [Page 757] reach President Coty and others and see whether there was any chance of obtaining a modification of the French position. I asked the Ambassador how long he felt we should try to hold the situation. He said he would like to have us try to hold it until there was time for the French Ambassador to call on Bourguiba at 10:30 this morning and get Bourguiba’s reply. I said that we would try to hold the situation until about noon, Paris and Tunisia time, i.e., until about 6:00 a.m., E.S.T.

Ambassador Houghton said he would call us back as soon as he heard the outcome and try to do so before 6:00 a.m., our time.2 He said he doubted very much that there would be any positive result because the French would insist on guarantees against Tunisia receiving arms elsewhere, and particularly the rejection of the Egyptian shipment now en route. Nevertheless he felt that it would help the situation if we gave the French time to play out their hand fully.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations. Drafted in the Secretary’s office.
  2. At approximately 3:10 a.m., the French Prime Minister’s office called the Embassy in Paris to report that the Council of Ministers had not changed its decision, and that France still called upon the British and U.S. Governments to support its demand that Bourguiba pledge not to accept arms from other than French sources. At the least, they were asked to delay delivery until Gorse had an opportunity to meet with Bourguiba. (Despatch 1069 from Paris, December 30; Department of State, Central Files, 772.56/12–3057)