40. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassyin France0

3348. Following report of discussion on Algeria in February 14 Alphand-Secretary meeting based on uncleared memcon:1

[Page 55]

Alphand, who probably not speaking from instructions but from what he conceives to be the French position, said De Gaulle obtained mandate proceed with self-determination. Extreme rightists out, army completely disciplined, and question is to negotiate with FLN, first on cease-fire then on guarantees, though latter negotiation cannot be with FLN alone. Inside FLN there tendency influenced by Bourguiba which wants to negotiate, and other tendency influenced by Nasser and East which does not, finding war serves its purpose. French hope moderates will prevail. Negotiations will be very secret, and Alphand will probably not be informed. French ask our confidence. French do not think we can help. Last Administration had no official relations with rebellion, French hope this will remain case. French hope negotiations will commence soon, but once they do we must realize will be difficult process, and will take some time.

Secretary asked, in view split in FLN if would be helpful to moderates to know friendly relations could be established with West.

Alphand replied they already know if agreement with French reached they will be closely associated with France, hence with West in general. Alphand reiterated there no move US can make now.

Secretary asked if French had any idea re time factor. Alphand could not say, even De Gaulle could not fix time.

Secretary stated we feel we are in period of pregnant opportunity, that is French and Algerians are, and we do not want to interfere in any way that might jeopardize progress. We under pressure to make some statement on Algeria, and have resisted, though this difficult for us.

After Secretary left meeting Alphand asked if could summarize our position as: US will let De Gaulle continue try seek solution, US will not make any statement, and US will continue not have any formal relations with FLN?

Kohler replied this essentially our position. Stressed we always under pressure. We realize French problems, but would appreciate any information re progress. We hope there disposition on both sides to compromise issues, so as avoid repeat of Melun. For example, we hope there inclination to find way around problem of cease-fire. We do not wish change our relations with either side, if this would result in firming up that side’s position against compromise. If French would at any time indicate this might be useful, we would be glad do what we could. We all confident De Gaulle seeking solution.

Alphand referred to Bourguiba visit to Paris, saying this would not involve good offices, but could be useful.

[Page 56]

Tasca stressed importance Bourguiba returning with his status unimpaired. Trip is risk for him.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/2-1561. Secret. Drafted by Valdes; cleared by McBride, Mau, and Tasca; and approved by Kohler. Repeated to Tunis, Rabat, Algiers, and London.
  2. A memorandum of this conversation is ibid., 770.00/2-1461.
  3. De Gaulle and President Bourguiba met in Rambouillet, France, February 27-28. Following the meeting, Bourguiba flew to Morocco to confer with PAG leaders. On March 1, Ambassador at Large Averell Harriman reported from Rabat that he had met with Bourguiba who had told him that he was convinced of the genuineness of De Gaulle’s intentions and that he was “risking his future on convincing Algeria leaders to respond to De Gaulle.” (Telegram 1637 from Rabat; ibid., 751S.00/3-161)