169. Editorial Note

On July 27, 1961, Tunisia again requested that the U.N. Security Council be convened on grounds that French military forces had not complied with the interim resolution of July 22. On July 28, the French Government issued a statement declaring its preference for a settlement of the Bizerte problem through direct negotiations with Tunisia. The same day, the French Government informed the Security Council that French troops had not refused to obey the cease-fire, that Tunisia had not accepted French proposals for talks concerning procedures for restoring normal conditions in Bizerte, and that, therefore, France did not consider it necessary to participate in any further debate on this subject in the Security Council.

On July 28, Ambassador Stevenson, who was in Paris, met with President De Gaulle, who told him that France would not participate in U.N. deliberations on Bizerte nor be influenced by any resolutions distasteful to France. De Gaulle indicated, however, that France did not intend to remain in Bizerte forever. The French President also warned Stevenson that the Atlantic Alliance was at stake. (Telegram 509 from Paris, July 28; Department of State, Central Files, 772.56351/7-2861) The next day, Stevenson met with Foreign Minister Couve de Murville and expressed U.S. concern at the serious division which Bizerte might cause among Western countries and asked if France would consider acknowledging publicly the principle of eventual evacuation. Couve replied that it was not the French intention to remain permanently in Bizerte, but that they could not leave right away and would not leave under pressure even if the base were worthless. (Telegram 521 from Paris, July 29; ibid., 772.56351/7-2961)

On July 29, the Security Council considered three new draft resolutions. Two of these were sponsored by Ceylon, Liberia, and the United Arab Republic and concentrated on France’s failure to comply with the resolution of July 22. Each received 4 affirmative votes (the sponsors joined by the Soviet Union) with 6 abstentions. The third resolution, which was sponsored by Turkey and supported by the United States, expressed concern that the interim resolution had not been fully carried out and called for its immediate and full implementation. A third operative paragraph urged the early opening of negotiations for a peaceful resolution of differences, “including a definitive settlement of the question of Bizerte, having due regard for Tunisian sovereignty.” For text of Ambassador Yost’s statement supporting the Turkish draft resolution, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pages 741-742. For text of the draft resolution, see ibid., page 742. During subsequent debate, the third paragraph was dropped. The remainder of the resolution also failed adoption by a vote of 6 to 0, with 4 abstentions. France did [Page 255] not participate in any of the voting and the Security Council concluded its meetings on July 29 without adopting any further resolution.

Immediately following the last Security Council session, Yost saw the Tunisian Representative to the United Nations, Mongi Slim, who expressed appreciation for U.S. efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis and urged that they continue. Similarly, French Representative Berard urged that the United States try to work out with Couve de Murville a formula that would permit implementation of the July 22 resolution. (Telegram 290 from USUN, July 29; Department of State, Central Files, 772.56351/7-2961)