87. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, July 1, 19571


  • Speech by Senator John F. Kennedy on Algeria, on Tuesday, July 2, 19572


  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Herve Alphand, Embassy of France
  • Mr. Jacques Vimont, Minister of French Embassy
  • Mr. William R. Tyler, WE

The French Ambassador called on the Secretary at his own request in order to inform him of his concern about the above speech, of which an advance text had already been distributed to the press.

The Ambassador said that the speech was violent and would inflame French opinion. He said that the fact that the speech called for a joint resolution,3 which would be preceded by a debate, made the situation worse. He said that the result would be to delay a solution on the Algerian problem rather than hasten one, and that its effect would be to crystallize the French position and embitter Franco-U.S. relations. While the Ambassador was speaking, he was interrupted by a long distance call from Foreign Minister Pineau in Paris, after which he returned to the Secretary’s office to say that Mr. Pineau had instructed him to make officially to the Secretary, in behalf of the French Government, the same points which he had raised on his own initiative. The Ambassador stressed that he was not addressing himself to the views expressed in the speech, nor was he questioning the right of the Senator to make the speech. He said that he must, however, draw the attention of the Secretary of State to the adverse effects which the speech, a debate and the proposed resolution would have on the prospects of improvement of the Algerian problem, and on French sentiment toward the United States.

The Secretary, after looking at the text of the speech, said that while it was evident that such a speech was likely to have the effect which the Ambassador had mentioned, he confessed he would himself be at a loss to explain convincingly French policy in Algeria, [Page 271] if he had to do so before the United Nations at this time or later this fall, should there have been no progress by then. The Secretary said that he was afraid that unless substantial progress were made by the time the next session of the General Assembly the situation might well blow up.

The Ambassador said that he thought it was important to stress that Senator Kennedy’s speech, by hardening French sentiment and whipping up French resentment against the U.S., would delay the chances of progress. The Ambassador asked whether the Secretary thought that the resolution had a chance of passing, to which the Secretary answered that he thought it might. The Ambassador asked whether the Administration would be prepared to do something to mitigate the effects of the speech and not let it go by unanswered. The Secretary said he would consider what might be done, but that he was not in a position at this time to be more specific.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/7–157. Confidential. Drafted by Tyler.
  2. Senator Kennedy’s speech was generally critical of U.S. policy toward the situation in Algeria. For text, see Congressional Record, vol. 103, pt. 8, 85th Congress, 1st Sess., July 2, 1957, pp. 10780–10793.
  3. Senator Kennedy submitted S. Res. 153; it was not adopted.
  4. At a press conference on July 2, Dulles defended France’s record and stated his opposition to U.S. involvement in the matter. (Department of State Bulletin, July 22, 1957, pp. 142–143) At a news conference on July 3, Eisenhower stated that U.S. policy would be impartial and helpful. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957, pp. 515–527)