85. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Elbrick) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy)1


  • French Invitation to Visit Melouza2


There is submitted herewith for your approval a telegram (Tab A)3 authorizing the Consul General at Algiers to send a representative to visit Melouza. On June 6 the French Foreign Office extended an invitation to our Embassy in Paris to send a representative to visit the scene of the Melouza massacre. Other Embassies, including the U.K., Italy, Switzerland, Germany, India, Sweden, Japan, Turkey and Uruguay were given similar invitations. Both our Embassy in Paris and the Consulate General at Algiers thought that a refusal would be a psychological error and that on balance an Embassy officer and a member of the Consulate General should make the visit.

After due consideration, it was decided by the Department that it would be undesirable for either the Embassy or the Consulate General to accept and both were so informed, with the request that if overriding objections were perceived to U.S. refusal, the Department [Page 267] should be urgently informed.4 The Embassy has come back strongly recommending that at least the Consulate General be authorized to send a member of its staff. The Embassy believes that a refusal on our part will not indicate impartiality, but rather hostility to the French on the Algerian issue. The Embassy believes that in order to retain any influence with the French with regard to Algeria, the U.S. must continue to show willingness to hear and see their side of the case.5

It now appears that the program of the trip is to be the following: first day, meeting at Algiers with the Resident Minister; second day, visit to an administrative section in the Kabylie zone; third day, visit to Melouza, and possibly the fourth day, visit to oil installations. It is reported that a number of countries, including India, Japan, Sweden, Sudan, Italy, Holland and Belgium have agreed to send representatives and that the U.K. will send its Consul General in Algiers if we accept.6

It is strongly believed that despite the obvious disadvantages, the Consulate General should be authorized to send a representative if an invitation is extended to the Consulate, but that the Paris Embassy should decline for itself. This would seem to be the minimum that we should do to avoid a very adverse French reaction. To give a complete refusal as to U.S. representation would seem difficult to explain. For the Consulate General to participate in such a multi-purpose tour, moreover, would appear to be in keeping with his normal duties and not give rise to unduly unfavorable comments by other nations. If the Consul General must also refuse, his relations with the Minister Resident will be seriously jeopardized and his usefulness accordingly affected.

NEA does not concur in this course of action and will undoubtedly wish to submit its comments on the foregoing.7 The previous messages on this matter are attached (Tab B).8


It is recommended that you approve the attached message to Paris and Algiers (Tab A).

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/6–1457. Confidential.
  2. In late May 1957, about 300 men in the village of Melouza were killed, apparently by FLN forces.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Telegram 4948 to Paris, June 7, noted that the visit would serve no constructive purpose. The United States feared that France might use the occasion to request condemnation of the FLN. (Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/6–757)
  5. In telegram 6302 from Paris, June 8, Ambassador Houghton replied that the representative from the Consulate General would not be a member of a commission of inquiry but rather an individual seeking information for the Department. (Ibid., 751S.00/6–857)
  6. A notation on the source text indicates that the United Kingdom had agreed to accept, irrespective of the U.S. decision.
  7. See infra.
  8. Not printed.