248. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France 0

5984. Eyes only Ambassador from Acting Secretary. President today asked that I communicate to you his deep concern about appearance here within last three days of articles by two well-known columnists on USG responsibility for rapid deterioration our relations with France. May 7 column by Sulzburger concludes that “Franco-American-relations are at a low ebb and nothing is being done to improve them.” And includes such statements as “compromise can salvage something; obstinacy leads only down blind alleys.” Joseph Alsop article today speaks of the “ugly relationship between France and US” and of the two governments “doing their best to inflame the situation still further by all sorts of calculated slights and petty persecutions.” Both articles castigate nuclear policy issue.

Appears to President that these stories part of a systematic campaign to present state of US-GOF relations to American public in most unfavorable and distorted fashion.

President asks that you caution your staff that in their contacts with French officials and the press they make every effort reflect spirit of Athens discussions in their portrayal US position on outstanding issues. With such care and diligence our representatives can assist in counteracting and offsetting misleading press stories.1

Ball
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.51/5–962. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Springsteen (U), cleared with Tyler and the White House, and approved by Ball.
  2. On May 10 Gavin responded that he shared the President’s concern, and since Debré’s press conference, had cautioned the Embassy staff to support U.S. policy both in spirit and to the letter. Gavin stressed further that although the Embassy was doing everything possible to put U.S. policy in a good light, the fact remained that the French in their contacts with the press were doing the opposite. (Telegram 5295; ibid., 611.51/5–1062)