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

3124. Sept 7. In conducting these discussions on reentry or reutilization of facilities in France I have kept constantly in mind the phrase in my instruction which tells me that “the record should demonstrate that failure to reach agreement was not due to unreasonableness of U.S. Government.” The more however I think on this subject the clearer it is to me that there is no formula that could possibly be devised which [Page 132] would really solve the problem of the timing of reentry once the French had decided to liquidate the existing peacetime bases and facilities. Our present position of insisting that the time of reentry would be fixed by the declaration of an alert (of any kind) really in substance may not much differ in point of time from a declaration of war. Of all of the formulas it seems to me “following consultation and agreement between the two governments” would be the most reasonable and practicable. There is no absolute guarantee that the French would agree, even when we sought it through diplomatic channels, but at least it would leave to us the timing of the effort in the light of existing situation at the time.

However, in regard to the pipeline I am concerned, as I set forth in Paris 1597,2 that if after end of pipeline talks we move over to NATO where question of wartime use may not be specifically raised, that our position will look somewhat arbitrary and unconvincing. Incidentally, I have had no reply to this message and would like to have some word on the subject prior to my meeting at 4 p.m. on Friday, September 9.3

I shall use every effort to try and make the French position, i.e., of no action until declaration of war, as clear as possible and will discuss with Couve the possibility of an exchange of letters which would provide us with a solid record of these talks. However, all matters will still be ad referendum to Washington which will give us some more time to consider the various factors involved.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 15-4 FR-US. Secret; Priority; Exdis.
  2. In telegram 1597 from Paris, August 2, Bohlen requested clarification of details for his discussion with the French. (Ibid., POL FR-US)
  3. In telegram 3330 from Paris, September 9, Bohlen reported on what he described as the French “balance sheet” regarding a future reoccupation and reutilization of military facilities and inquired if he should seek a meeting with Couve on the issue. In telegram 46823, September 14, the Department of State responded that there was no need for such a meeting prior to Bohlen’s return to the United States for consultations. (Both ibid., DEF 15-4 FR-US)