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

3161. Department has carefully studied posts’ recommendations for and against raising level our contacts with PAG. Department shares concerns cited Paris 3016.1 However, Department also shares belief (Tunis 881)2FLN will inevitably play large role in Algerian future, and therefore sees merit in modifying present arrangements in manner which will permit us to improve our eventual capability to influence PAG in direction constructive approach to problems which bound to arise in conjunction anticipated negotiations. In any case Department believes present situation inconsistent with our traditional position of being willing see all groups and considers effort should be made bring contacts with PAG more into line our normal practices. At same time Department wishes [Page 53] avoid creating expectations or suspicions on either side which could make direct contact between them more difficult. It is important in particular that neither French nor PAG be given grounds to believe US intends to deal with PAG or its representatives in manner inconsistent with our non-recognition of PAG’s claim to government status, or to become actively involved in any way in negotiations.

Department accordingly authorizes addressee posts to take such steps as may be appropriate locally to deal discreetly but positively with Algerian overtures for exchanges of views at other than present levels. This should be done unostentatiously and without any advance statement to PAG or others we are prepared do so. In other words we would not envisage sudden campaign to cultivate PAG but only quiet return to more normal practices. Posts should make every reasonable effort to confine higher level contacts to those which would arise spontaneously in course of normal social and ceremonial functions.

Department will welcome posts’ suggestions as to best ways of handling French when they complain of higher level US-PAG contacts.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/2-161. Confidential. Drafted by Chase and Valdes; cleared by Kohler, McBride, Penfield, Hare, and Stoessel; and approved by Rusk. Also sent to Rabat, Tunis, Cairo, and Tripoli and repeated to London and USUN.
  2. In telegram 3016 from Paris, January 30, Cecil Lyon, Minister of the Embassy, warned that any advantage gained by moving to higher level contacts with the PAG would not be “sufficient to counter-balance inevitable French feeling we were prejudicing negotiations and trying to upstage them at delicate moment.” (Ibid., 751S.00/1-3061)
  3. Dated January 27. (Ibid., 751S.00/1-2761)
  4. On February 2, Lyon recommended that the French Government be informed of any change in U.S. policy and made a “final plea for deferring any change in present policy at least until FLN-French negotiations under way.” (Telegram 3061 from Paris; ibid., 751S.00/2-261) The Department of State responded on February 4 that it did not believe it advisable to inform either the French or the FLN in advance of any change in policy “since this would lend too great significance to matter” and reiterated its position on contacts with the PAG as outlined in telegram 3161, noting that the date when Franco-Algerian talks were to begin remained unclear. (Telegram 3201 to Paris; ibid.)