Department of State Bulletin, vol. IV, p. 881
Statement by the Secretary of State at a Press Conference, June 5, 1941
We have received some preliminary reports from Ambassador Leahy. Frankly we are very much concerned about the situation which seems to be growing up. As you know, we have throughout our history been sympathetic to the true aspirations of France. We have fought beside her. Her cause has been our cause. The principles of free, representative government by the people have been the bases of the democratic institutions of both of our countries.
In her present difficult situation we have given concrete evidence of our sympathetic friendship and thought for the well‑being of the French people and the French Empire.
We have continued to maintain full and friendly diplomatic relations with the French Government at Vichy and have received its emissaries freely in this country. We have given the fullest and most sympathetic consideration to financial problems connected with the maintenance of French establishments, not only in this hemisphere but in the Far East, both diplomatic and semi‑official services.
We have, through Admiral Leahy, the American Ambassador at Vichy, consistently conveyed to the French Government our understanding of the difficulties of their position and our determination to be of every assistance we could in solving their problems for the ultimate benefit of the French people. We have made clear to the French Government that a basic policy of this Government was to aid Great Britain in her defense against those same forces of conquest which had invaded and are subjugating France.
We have aided in the furnishing of foodstuffs fox unoccupied France, and children's supplies are now being distributed through the American Red Cross, and we had planned the continuation of these services.
We have facilitated the passage of ships from this hemisphere to France's African colonies.
We have collaborated with the other American republics as well as with the French Government in safeguarding the welfare and maintaining the integrity of the French possessions in the Western Hemisphere.
In collaboration with the French Government we have arranged for the maintenance of the economic stability of the French North African territories by providing facilities for increasing trade and the purchase from us of commodities urgently needed by the people of North Africa
with a view to maintaining their previous status as an integral part of the French Empire.
Happily, whenever such action was necessary, Ambassador Leahy has been able to assure the Vichy Government that this Nation had no other interest in any territories of the French Empire than their preservation for the French people.
We have given the most sympathetic consideration to the financial problems arising out of the freezing of French funds.
It has been the determined policy of this Government to continue friendly and helpful cooperation with France in the present difficult situation, in which its action is restricted and limited by the terms of its armistice with Germany and Italy. This policy has been based upon assurances by the French Government that there was no intention on its part to exceed the strict limitations imposed by those terms.
It would seem scarcely believable that the French Government at Vichy should adopt the policy of collaboration with other powers for the purpose of aggression and oppression, despite indications appearing in our preliminary reports. Such action would not only be yielding priceless rights and interests beyond the requirements of a harsh armistice but it would at once place France in substantial political and military subservience and would also make her, in part, the instrument of aggression against many other peoples and nations. This could only be utterly inimical to the just rights of other countries, to say nothing of its ultimate effects on the liberties, the true interests, and the welfare of the people of France.
We are therefore undertaking as speedily as possible to assemble every material fact and circumstance calculated to shed light on this alleged course of the French Government.