740.0011 EW/6–545: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Caffery)34a

2527. 1. From your telegram 3296, June 435 and previous reports regarding the situation along the Franco-Italian frontier it is clear [Page 733] that oral representations to the French Government have been unsuccessful. We are of the opinion that the time has come when our position must be clearly set forth in a formal communication to the French Government on this subject. You are therefore requested to present the following communication to the French Minister for Foreign Affairs on behalf of this Government:

2. “Under instructions from my Government, I have the honor to inform you of its concern regarding the situation which may be expected to arise as a result of the continued presence of French forces in certain areas in northwestern Italy.

3. “As you are aware, early in May the Supreme Allied Commander requested the French military authorities to instruct General Doyen to coordinate the withdrawal of his troops into France with the arrival of American forces on the Italian border. Up to this time, this withdrawal has not taken place and, although 2 weeks ago General Doyen gave oral assurances that he would not interfere with Fifth Army Missions in northwestern Italy, it is now understood that he has indicated in writing the unwillingness of the French Government to agree to the requested action. General Doyen’s letter is also reported to have said that insistence upon French withdrawal would assume a definitely unfriendly and even hostile character and could have ‘grave consequences’.

4. “My Government is reluctant to believe that the position taken by General Doyen can represent the considered view of the French Government.

5. “As you know, the situation in northwestern Italy has in recent weeks been discussed on several occasions and, in the most frank but friendly spirit, was drawn to your personal attention by President Truman and the Acting Secretary of State during your visit to Washington. General de Gaulle has assured me that all France requires is a slight rectification of the frontier. He had previously indicated that this could be brought about through normal diplomatic channels.

6. “The French Government is aware of the general policy of the United States with regard to the question of territorial changes, which was most recently enunciated in a statement issued on May 12, last, by the Acting Secretary of State. At that time, Mr. Grew’s remarks had special reference to the situation in northeastern Italy and he expressed the view long held by my Government that the best way to avoid hasty and precarious territorial solutions in the Mediterranean theater of operations would be to establish and maintain an Allied Military Government in the disputed areas pending settlement by the orderly processes to which the United Nations are pledged. My government is convinced that this policy is as much in the interest of France as it is in the interest of all the United Nations, whose representatives are now engaged in working out together at San Francisco a charter for future international cooperation and the solution of international problems by peaceful means.

7. “My Government feels that the position now taken by General Doyen will inevitably serve to arouse new fears in a situation which is already highly inflammable and will foster the belief that the [Page 734] French Government is exerting military pressure for the accomplishment of political ends.

8. “My Government therefore hopes that the French Government will reexamine the situation in northwestern Italy and will recognize that it is in the interest of France and of inter-Allied relations to order the withdrawal of French forces from Italian soil. Such action on the part of the French Government would eliminate a possible source of serious friction and the impression that France might be endeavoring to obtain territorial accessions through the use of force. Far from prejudicing any legitimate French interest, such voluntary withdrawal would be regarded as evidence of Frence’s desire to contribute to the peaceful settlement of international problems.”

9. For Moscow you are requested to inform Soviet Government of contents of foregoing note.

  1. Repeated to Moscow as No. 1223 and to Caserta as No. 549.
  2. Not printed.