42. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

3088. At his request I called on Deferre, Minister of Overseas Territories today. He discussed problem of debate on French Togo-land in United Nations. He pointed out that this was very important matter for Franco-American relations and was place where France deserved full support of United States. He then said that United States had voted against French the other day in TC which had been deciding vote in sending French Togoland to 4th Committee without recommendation.2 He said that French had desired not necessarily a [Page 166] positive recommendation but something stating that TC had studied the matter and felt that election had been fairly conducted, which Deferre said was an indisputable fact attested to by foreign newspaper men.

Drawing on Deptel 23413 I told Deferre that our vote in TC had been purely tactical and should not be considered to prejudge United States position on substantive issues involved. I told Deferre that Embassy Paris as a result of talks with his ministry had fully explained French position to Department and had urged United States support for French position. I said that we had not yet received Department’s views on substantive issues involved but we expected them shortly and when they arrived would be in touch with his office. Meanwhile, I said we had received statement which Department had authorized US rep TC to make for press following conclusion of debate in TC. I then gave Deferre copy of statement as shown in Deptel 2345.4 Deferre was naturally very pleased with tone of this statement.

I told Deferre that if there had been any misunderstanding between French and US Dels, it may have been partly due to the fact that USDel had not been kept as fully informed by French reps as they might have been. Deferre said he was surprised to hear this but would send instructions to his rep in French Del to see that US was kept fully informed from here on out. He said he would also telephone Alphand and ask him to be sure State Department was kept fully informed. I have the feeling that some of the problems with French Embassy Washington and French Del mentioned in Deptel 23415 may stem from fact that French case on Togoland is apparently being conducted entirely by Ministry of Overseas Territories, which probably has led to some crossed wires and jealousies via-à-vis Quai d’Orsay.

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Deferre said that matter would come up for debate on January 3. He said the case would be presented initially by Togolese Del headed by new Prime Minister of Togoland. Togolese would in effect ask the UN to give them their freedom which they had already been given by France. French side of case will be presented by Houphouet-Boigny, native-born African Minister in present French Government. Deferre himself will be present as senior adviser but will stay in background. Deferre said he plans to arrive in US on January 1st and would like very much to see Lodge sometime during the day of the 2nd. I would appreciate information as to whether Lodge will be available for meeting with Deferre on 2nd.

Deferre then pointed out that French case on Togoland was very good and in some ways was even better than British case on British Togoland which had been approved by TC with US support.6 British Togoland was being annexed to Gold Coast whereas French Togoland was receiving its own independent status. Deferre said that French relations with Togolese Government were very good. They are in marked contrast with French relations in Morocco and Tunisia, in that Togolese are requesting Deferre to supply more French technicians and administrators than he wishes to let them have. He has pointed out to them that if they have too many it would cause a strain on their budget which would then necessitate a subsidy from France. This would have the effect of casting a shadow on their independence. Therefore, he is insisting on keeping the number of French administrators to a minimum.

Deferre then outlined the great importance of this vote from the point of view of Franco-American relations. He said it was obvious that Algerian problem would be difficult and that United States might not find it possible to vote with France in that case. If we give France full support on Togoland it would then be possible for United States to say that we support France when we think they are clearly in the right, which position would be well understood by France. Lack of support on Togoland issue would be interpreted by French as indicative of United States policy merely to oppose France at any and every opportunity. Deferre pointed out that he had real problem in getting a liberal Togolese constitution accepted by French Parliament and that if United States should now oppose such a liberal solution it would be very difficult if not impossible to explain American position to French public.

I asked Deferre if Togolese had been in contact with Liberian Govt. He said that they had not had such contacts as yet. I told him I thought it was important that Togolese delegates seek out Liberians [Page 168] promptly on arrival in New York and attempt to obtain their support which seemed to me to be very important psychologically. Deferre also said he hoped United States would use its influence with Latin American countries for a favorable vote, and in particular mentioned Guatemala. I replied that French should realize that Guatemala was a difficult and special case whenever a French question came up in United States as it was hard for Guatemalan Govt to forget support given by France to Communist Govt in Guatemala.

I fully agree with Deferre that in present situation Togoland problem is far more important than it otherwise would be, particularly in view of difficult upcoming Algerian debate. I feel it is important that United States find a way to fully support France on this issue.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 7515.00/12–2056. Confidential. Repeated to USUN.
  2. The Statute of the autonomous Republic of Togoland was promulgated by Decree 56–847 of August 24, which became effective August 30. On September 10, Nicolas Grunitzky became Prime Minister. The Togolese who chose to vote in the October 28 referendum supported the Statute by a large margin. In a memorandum submitted to the Trusteeship Council on December 6 (U.N. doc. T/1290), the French requested that, in light of the referendum and a subsequent motion of the Togoland Legislative Assembly on November 2, the U.N. General Assembly and the Trusteeship Council should require France to terminate the Trusteeship Agreement. The sixth special session of the Council met expressly to deal with this issue. General Assembly concurrence in the termination of a Trust was specified under Articles 12 of the Agreement and 85 of the Charter. On December 17, the Council adopted an oral proposal by Guatemala to transmit the question to the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly with the relevant documents, but without any recommendation. The vote was 8 to 6, with the deciding ballot cast by the United States. See Yearbook of the United Nations 1956, pp. 373–374. Ambassador Dillon in telegram 3015 from Paris, December 17, urged a negative vote in this matter. (Department of State, Central Files, 751T.00/12–1756)
  3. Telegram 2341, December 19, stated that the United States supported the Guatemalan initiative because of a conviction that the Fourth Committee would inevitably consider the issue and in order to preclude an adverse recommendation from the Council. (Ibid., 751T.00/12–1956)
  4. Telegram 2345, December 19, transmitted a press statement in which the United States commented favorably on the constitutional advances in Togoland pointing toward self-government. (Ibid.)
  5. See footnote 3 above. Neither the French Embassy nor U.N. Delegation had kept the United States informed of their intentions and tactics.
  6. Reference is to General Assembly Resolution 944(X), December 15. See Document 122.