233. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France0

17. Eyes only Ambassador. Re: Deptel 16.1 Reftel forwarded text of Presidential letter of June 30 to de Gaulle and indicated second Presidential letter of same date to follow. Text of second letter is quoted below. Delivery instructions contained in reftel.

“June 30, 1961

Dear General de Gaulle:

I wish to refer to our recent conversation on the use of nuclear weapons.2 With regard to the use by the United States of any nuclear weapons, I give you the following assurance, which is, of course, not intended to be used publicly. In the event of an emergency such as increased tension or the threat of war, the United States will take every possible step to consult with France and other allies unless an attack were so imminent that our survival was threatened. The channel of direct telephone communication between us is intended for this purpose, if necessary.

This assurance is, of course, in addition to the written understanding contained in the exchange of letters between Ambassador Dillon and Minister of Foreign Affairs Bidault of April 8, 1954,3 concerning the use by the United States of bases in France. That understanding provides that “the use of the bases and installations placed at the disposition of the United States Government in Metropolitan France and French North Africa will, in time of emergency, be a matter for joint decision by the United States and France in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time.” I confirm the continuing validity of this written understanding.

I am happy to give you the foregoing assurances in the interest of the common defense and in the spirit of the close relationship which exists between our two countries.


John F. Kennedy

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 700.5611/7–261. Secret; Verbatim Text.
  2. Document 232.
  3. See Document 230.
  4. Not found.