54. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

5247. For Secretary From Ambassador. High-level Foreign Office source known to you this afternoon told McGuire that subsequent to my seeing Alphand this morning (Embtel 5243)2 De Gaulle saw [Page 110] Couve de Murville and issued peremptory instructions to him to prepare papers by 7 o clock tonight (1) denouncing all multilateral agreements connected with NATO except the North Atlantic Treaty itself,3 and (2) all military bilateral agreements with U.S.

Source continued that whether agreements were denunciable or not De Gaulle intended to denounce them. Later De Gaulle will be prepared to discuss with U.S. arrangements for facilities in France in the event of a war in which France would be willing to participate. Timing is not yet established but De Gaulle said possibly rather quickly, and certainly before his visit to Moscow.

While we have no reason to doubt authenticity of this information, which was relayed to source by Couve immediately on arrival at Quai from Elysee, it nevertheless is extremely curious. It counter-acts specifically and definitely De Gaulle’s own statement in press conference that these changes would be accomplished progressively and that French allies would not suddenly be inconvenienced, and would seem to represent a sudden and abrupt change of his policy and tactics in this respect for as yet undisclosed reasons. In fact source said de Gaulle had changed his position in last five days, i.e., since press conference.

Source added that after denunciation issued, method and timing of U.S. withdrawal was less important to De Gaulle and presumably could be carried out in manner to minimize difficulties for us. Source described these decisions as a declaration of neutralism on the part of France. Will have further comments in subsequent telegram.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 4 NATO. Secret; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. Telegram 5243 from Paris, February 25, reported Alphand’s statement that a French position on U.S. facilities would be forthcoming. (Ibid., DEF 15-4 FR-US)
  3. For documentation relating to the French withdrawal from NATO, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XIII.
  4. Telegram 5260 from Paris, February 25. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 15-4 FR-US)