39. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Tunisia 0
801. In extended and extremely cordial farewell call on President Feb 6,1 Ambassador Slim reiterated his country’s confidence in U.S., [Page 54] identity of views between two nations and Tunisia’s earnest hope U.S. Government would take courageous anti-colonial stand despite difficulties this might cause us with certain of our European allies. Ambassador stressed Algerian problem as Tunisia’s main preoccupation and said that present opportunity for negotiations must not be lost. He informed President that Bourguiba had been invited visit De Gaulle and that, while Bourguiba appreciated this gesture and was willing to take any step that would help cause of Algerian peace, he first wished to discuss invitation with Algerian friends and to make sure his visit would serve useful purpose and not merely be matter of protocol. In answer to President’s question, Ambassador said Bourguiba’s relationships with FLN leadership were excellent. Ambassador warned that if De Gaulle missed present opportunity for negotiations Tunisia could not long hold out against transshipment of Communist help to Algerian fighters.
President recalled long interest he had in North African problems from time he was Senator and said his views had not changed though his responsibilities were of course now different. In difficulties that lay ahead we certainly counted on constructive and stabilizing role of President Bourguiba and Tunisia. It seemed to President that more progress had been made toward solution of Algerian problem in last three months than in last six years. He wondered whether events were not now moving toward kind of solution based on self-determination which he and President Bourguiba favored. Ambassador expressed doubt events were moving at sufficiently rapid pace. President indicated we looked to Tunisia for any suggestions as to how US could play effective part.