42. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Tunisia 0

994. Department is disturbed by Yazid statement reported in press that “under present conditions PAG will not go to Evian.”

Embassy should therefore make immediate contact with PAG at level you consider appropriate to express perplexity over Yazid statement and to ask what explanation you can send to USG. Embassy can draw on following points as appropriate in light PAG reply:

While PAG may have felt compelled to underscore its position in light reported Joxe Oran statements and MNA communique,1 fact remains that GOF in communique announcing talks and subsequently, especially in Algeria, has clearly differentiated between “official” negotiations to take place at Evian and exchanges with MNA and other Algerian elements many of which, as PAG well knows, have little political influence among Algerian masses.
It quite clear to us that French govt fully committed to begin formal negotiations with PAG on “conditions for self-determination of Algerian population as well as problems related thereto,” a formula which is clearly responsive to PAG’s own wishes and status. US believes, as result its discussions with highest levels of French govt, that French intentions are firm and genuine and that decision has been made (not without some cost, e.g. assassination mayor of Evian) to proceed at Evian to begin creation of Algerian Algeria. PAG does not have to accept our estimate on faith but would seem to have everything to gain by exploring French intentions fully in official talks instead of through communiques.
There will no doubt be many extraneous attempts to block or compromise negotiated settlement but parties must rise above them for main issue is that negotiations must take place, and quickly, if peaceful and equitable solution for Algeria is to be found.
Embassy knows US is urging GOF with equal frankness to take every precaution to avoid inopportune statements or actions which might be misinterpreted. US also avoiding substantive statements at this time.

If PAG reaction to foregoing is negative and intractable, Embassy may in its discretion tell PAG that instructions it has received from Washington make clear that US Government, whose interest in a mutually satisfactory agreement should be apparent, would find it very difficult to understand PAG’s failure to seize opportunity which Evian seems to offer. Alternatively, you may report PAG reaction to Embassy inquiry together with your recommendations. In either case you should inform GOT of your conversation with PAG and its results.

Paris may tell GOF in general terms that we are seeking emphasize to PAG vital importance of adhering to April 7 schedule Evian, but Embassy should emphasize to GOF, (presumably Joxe or Couve) importance we attach to GOF’s doing nothing which would make more difficult task of bringing PAG negotiators to Evian and assuring that talks themselves will be productive. Embassy should indicate that in our opinion it would be most helpful if GOF were to see that a reaffirmation of special character Evian were speedily made clear.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/3-3161. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Root and Chase; cleared by Brown, Valdes, and Witman; and approved by McBride. Also sent to Paris and repeated to Rabat, London, and Algiers.
  2. On March 27, rival Mouvement Nationaliste Algerienne leader Messali Hadj announced that the MNA planned to appoint a delegation to begin parallel negotiations with the French. On March 30, Louis Joxe, French Minister of State in Charge of Algerian Affairs, said in Oran that he was prepared to meet with the MNA. On March 31, PAG Minister of Information Mohammed Yazid declared that French negotiations with the “valets of colonialism” called into question the Evian talks.
  3. On April 1, Ambassador James M. Gavin reported from Paris that the French Government was “still reasonably optimistic” that FLN maneuvers would not prevent the opening of talks in Evian on April 7. (Telegram 4164 from Paris; Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/4-161) On April 3, Ambassador Walter N. Walmsley met with PAG Ministers in Tunis and emphasized the danger that a delay in beginning negotiations would entail, to which they responded that Joxe’s statement indicated a basic French unwillingness to negotiate sincerely and insisted that the Evian talks could not begin until this statement had been suitably clarified. (Telegram 1144 from Tunis, April 3; ibid., 751S.00/4-361) This was the first official meeting between PAG officials and a U.S. Ambassador. French protests were reported in telegram 4209 to Paris, April 7. (Ibid., 751S.00/4-761)