56. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Williams) to Secretary of State Rusk 0


  • Reception of Provisional Algerian Government Leaders in the Department

I understand that Ambassador Alphand suggested during his talk with you on Wednesday that we should again postpone our decision to receive PAG leaders in the Department. If Mr. Alphand’s request had specified a limited period for postponement justified by urgent considerations explained in some detail, I would not find it quite so objectionable. Mr. Couve de Murville’s request to Ambassador Gavin on December 28 (Paris tel 3250 at Tab A)1 was far more reasonable from our point of view. The week he asked for as a minimum has now passed.

As far as we know the PAG has no knowledge of our decision to lift the restriction on their reception in the Department. It is quite possible that several weeks may go by before they seek talks here. But whether PAG leaders take the initiative next week or next month, it is at this stage, and under these circumstances, much more likely to be for substantive discussion than for show. I am most reluctant to be committed to a position of having to refuse them and thus, of doing damage to the reasonably good rapport we have painstakingly established.


I suggest that we inform the French that we are not prepared to defer indefinitely our readiness to receive PAG leaders at their request. We might suggest that we would consider a French request to extend the period proposed by M. Couve de Murville for a specified brief time if the purpose for doing so seemed clearly to justify it. Again we could reassure the French that we will neither initiate such talks in the immediate future nor treat them any differently than previous conversations with the PAG.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.51S11/1-662. Secret. Drafted by Hooper and concurred in by WE. Attached to a memorandum from Witman to Williams indicating that the memorandum to the Secretary followed the line that McGhee had instructed Witman to take on January 4. Witman added that he would prefer that they adhere to their decision “no longer to slam the Department’s door in the faces of the PAG.” (Ibid.)
  2. Not attached to the source text. See footnote 3, Document 55.
  3. On January 6, the Department of State cabled the Embassy in Rabat in response to a January 4 Embassy request for permission to initiate contacts with the PAG. The Department instructed the Embassy not to initiate such meetings at this stage, although if a meeting with the Ambassador or Charge seemed advisable as the result of a PAG initiative, “this should not be ruled out.” (Telegram 1114 from Rabat and telegram 928 to Rabat; Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/1-462)