13. Editorial Note

Almost from the outset of his return to power in France in June 1958, General Charles de Gaulle raised the issue of tripartite (U.S.–U.K.–French) consultation and action on a range of issues, including African affairs, outside the confines of NATO. (Memorandum from de Gaulle to Eisenhower and Macmillan, September 17; Department of State, EUR/WE Files: Lot 72 D 441, De Gaulle Memo, Sept. 25–Oct. 15, 1958) Ambassador Alphand informed Secretary Dulles on October 31 that France desired tripartite strategic military planning covering Africa and the Middle East, as well as political planning. (Telegram 1594 to Paris, October 31; ibid., Central Files, 740.5/10–3158)

On December 15, Dulles conferred with de Gaulle while in Paris to attend the NATO Ministerial meeting. The Secretary “noted that Africa particularly was suited to such a tripartite study. Africa is vital to the West. If studied from a North-South viewpoint, Africa was the hinterland of Western Europe. Today Africa is being penetrated by Communist agents, and is caught up in the worldwide movement for premature independence. It presents grave problems if not in the fighting war, in the subversive war. France has great influence and interest in this continent, and it would be particularly an appropriate subject to be studied together.” (Memorandum of conversation by Robert H. McBride; ibid., Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199) On January 7, 1959, however, Dulles suggested to Ambassador Alphand that the Far East be the first subject of tripartite discussion. (Memorandum of conversation by L. Dean Brown; ibid.)

The second stage of the tripartite discussions, which was to focus on Africa, was scheduled for mid-April. Louis Joxe, Secretary-General of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed the French Delegation. On April 15, the day before formal consultations were to commence, [Page 45] “Joxe said he contemplated that these talks should be the beginning of continuous study and consultations by the French and British Ambassadors, together with their military experts, and the US Government.” (Memorandum of conversation by Matthew Looram, April 15; ibid., Central Files, 770.00/4–1559) The agreed agenda was discarded at the last minute when the French proposed new items and different emphases. (Telegram 4052 to Paris, April 25; ibid., 770.00/4–2359) Five sessions were held between April 16 and 21. At the second meeting on April 17, Joxe offered remarks on Algeria, the French Community, the Maghreb, and the Sahara. The third session on April 20 considered Algeria, Guinea, the North African states, a British paper on Africa, and arms. The final two meetings were convened on April 21. A discussion of military strategy carried over into the last session, which also turned to economic aid. (Memoranda of conversation by Leon Dorros, William N. Stokes, and William Canup; ibid., PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Africa–1959–1960)