48. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Posts 0

436. Algeria. In September 5 press conference De Gaulle in our view made major concession on Sahara,1 in effect renouncing French claims to sovereignty. Way appears be opened to PAG to resume negotiations.

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We have also noted Ben Khedda avoided any possible temptation during Belgrade meeting to take hard line. Despite turnover in PAG, effective power still seems be wielded by Krim and Boussouf and PAG consistently says its objectives obtainable through resumption negotiations.

Both French and PAG seem envisage another round of negotiations; both also making alternate plans should negotiations prove fruitless. De Gaulle has announced plans proceed with creation provisional authority in Algeria to implement self-determination process (referendum and elections). He seems regard this as alternate means reaching agreement with PAG, that is, by secret understanding rather than open negotiations. If agreement with PAG impossible by any means, he then would proceed with plans for regroupment and total abandonment large segments of Algeria. PAG on other hand talks of stepped up diplomatic and military activity and probably expects more active intervention Afro-Asian and Bloc powers, should negotiation process fail.

We believe time running out rapidly and that French share this view. Failure to reach agreement would result in complete cessation French economic assistance to partitioned section of Algeria and installation PAG regime therein under chaotic conditions. In such case we would undoubtedly see new regime turn to Bloc. In short, we believe resumption negotiations essential. Failure to reach agreement would possibly be disastrous to Western interests in North Africa and elsewhere.

With above in mind, we believe moment propitious for approach new PAG team. PAG should be sounded out on intentions re negotiations, including any concessions they willing make to accommodate French interests as stated by De Gaulle. PAG should be assured our full support self-determination, and our conviction Algeria will soon be fully sovereign State. Should particularly stress our hope new Algeria will find it possible cooperate with France in economic and cultural fields, on basis full equality, since France already making tremendous efforts in Algeria which it willing continue after independence provided some accommodation made its own interests. Should assure PAG our willingness assist also in numerous problems new state will face.

PAG should be informed we feel De Gaulle intent on full decolonization, and that concession on Sahara was major step forward which should facilitate agreement. We would hope PAG itself will be as forthcoming. Should stress our fear that failure to reach bilateral settlement could lead to introduction cold war in North Africa in particularly acute form, and could prevent for some time to come assumption by Algeria of important role in African and Arab worlds.

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In view previous contacts, Ambassador Tunis should seek early occasion make approach to Krim or Dahlab.2 While French authorities would be aware approach to be made, contact should be discreet so as to avoid press attention. We are considering parallel approach to Chanderli in New York.

For Paris: Ambassador or Charge should immediately inform Couve and Joxe our preoccupations and intentions, as outlined above.3 We note that De Gaulle has no strong feeling on such an approach to PAG, but we would nevertheless hope any information received would be helpful to French in reaching agreement with FLN.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/9-961. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by MacDonald on September 8; cleared by Brown, Wallner, Buffum, Tyler, Fredericks, Witman, and Korn; and approved by Ball. Sent to Tunis, Paris, Algiers, Rabat, Cairo, Tripoli, Benghazi, London, and USUN.
  2. De Gaulle had told the press conference that France might be willing to recognize Algerian sovereignty over the Sahara if French interests there were safeguarded.
  3. On September 13, Walmsley expressed these points to PAG officials, Interior Minister Belkacem Krim, and Foreign Minister Saad Dahlab. (Telegram 438 from Tunis, September 14; Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/9-1461) Department of State officers made a parallel approach to the PAG Representative to the United Nations, Abdelkader Chanderli, in Washington on the same day. (Telegram 1514 to Paris, September 14; ibid.)
  4. On September 11, Gavin informed French Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville regarding U.S. intentions. (Telegram 1378 from Paris, September 11; 751S.00/9-1161)