166. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Tasca) to Secretary of State Rusk 0


  • Tunisian Complaint in Security Council

The Tunisians have decided to take their difficulties with the French to the Security Council tomorrow afternoon, charging the French with aggression in the region of Bizerte. It would be most unfortunate to have [Page 251] two friends of the West disputing this issue in the Security Council and would provide a great many openings for the Soviets and the UAR.

It is our opinion that it would be helpful if you were to call in both the Tunisian Ambassador and French Charge on this matter.1

You might wish to tell the Tunisian Ambassador that we are most disturbed by the timing of these events and are strongly urging both sides to reconcile their differences among themselves. You might add that recourse to the Security Council is bound to bring cold war issues into this question, particularly now at the time of the Berlin crisis, and will certainly affect United States freedom of action. Furthermore these difficulties prejudice gravely France’s ability to be forthcoming at the Evian negotiations and the entire matter opens up opportunities to adversaries of both the United States and Tunisia.

You might say that you hope the Tunisian Government will reconsider its decision to bring this matter to the Security Council and say that we are urging the French to take such steps as might facilitate this.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 330/7-2061. Confidential. Drafted by McClintic.
  2. On July 20, the Secretary called in first the Tunisian Ambassador, Habib Bourguiba, Jr., and then the French Charge, M. Claude Lebel. Rusk told Bourguiba that the U.S. Government was agreed on the need for an immediate end to the fighting and he urged negotiations to bring about an immediate cease-fire. Rusk also expressed doubt as to whether U.N. Security Council action would help or hinder a settlement during subsequent negotiations. (Memorandum of conversation, July 20; ibid., 772.56351/7-2061) The Secretary then told Lebel that it was “particularly painful” for the United States to see France and Tunisia, which had been on friendly terms, involved in a situation of this kind and said he thought that negotiation was essential. (Memorandum of conversation, July 20; ibid.)