167. Editorial Note

On July 20, 1961, Tunisia appealed to the United Nations to convene an emergency session of the Security Council and charged the French with acts of aggression that infringed on the sovereignty and security of Tunisia in Bizerte. When the Council met on July 21, U.S. Representative Charles W. Yost appealed to both Tunisia and France, calling for an “immediate cease-fire” and “a satisfactory settlement of the question directly between the two parties concerned.” For text of Yost’s statement, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pages 736-737.

In a July 21 telephone conversation between the Secretary and British Foreign Secretary Lord Home and a meeting between D.A. Greenhill, Counselor at the British Embassy, and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Harlan Cleveland on July 22, the [Page 252] United States and the United Kingdom agreed to make joint demarches to France and Tunisia urging a cease-fire and to support a Security Council resolution urging a cease-fire and commencement of negotiations. Both countries agreed that adoption of some sort of U.N. resolution would be necessary despite French objections. (Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations; Memorandum of conversation; ibid., Central Files, 772.56351/7-2261)

On July 22, by a vote of 10 to 0, with France abstaining, the Security Council adopted an interim resolution sponsored by Liberia which called for “an immediate cease-fire and a return of all armed forces to their original positions.” For text of the resolution, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pages 737-738.

The July 22 Security Council session continued as members attempted to reach agreement on a definitive resolution. A draft resolution sponsored by Liberia and the United Arab Republic, which called upon both parties to enter into immediate negotiations aimed at the speedy evacuation of French forces from all of Tunisia, lost by a vote of 4 to 0 with 7 abstentions (including the United States and France) because it failed to gain the necessary 7 votes for adoption. The draft resolution sponsored by the United States and the United Kingdom, which urged both parties to promptly negotiate a peaceful settlement of their differences, also failed to receive the requisite number of votes, losing by a vote of 6 to 0 with 5 abstentions.

On July 23, Yost reported that the French were “on the whole pleased” with the outcome in the Security Council, while the Tunisians were “deeply unhappy” at the failure of the United States and its friends to support them on the evacuation issue. In light of the strong Tunisian resentment, he advised that they should immediately agree to airlift Tunisian troops from the Congo. In view of strong Tunisian objections to the presence of the base on their territory, Yost urged that the United States exert its full influence with the French so that the issue be promptly settled in a manner that would be at least reasonably satisfactory to Tunisia. (Telegram 177 from USUN; Department of State, Central Files, 772.56351/7-2361)