890E.01/204: Telegram

The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Beirut (Wadsworth) to the Secretary of State

302. Reference my 299, October 30, 5 p.m.93 On instructions of French Committee of National Liberation French Delegation General here issued communiqué today noon in following sense:

Committee has examined question as to whether Lebanese Government and Parliament may validly modify constitution unilaterally.

Its conclusion is that French authorities cannot recognize validity of any such action, if affecting texts resulting from international obligations undertaken by France and still in effect, unless made with French assent.

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Decision is but application of general rule of law. Respect of contracts is basis of independence and liberty of states.

Committee is confident Lebanese nation will recognize wisdom of decision and realize that in practice it is in conformity with determination of France to accord Lebanon complete independence through negotiations undertaken in spirit of friendly cooperation. (End communiqué.)

Reaction in Lebanese Nationalist and Government circles will assuredly be one of bitter opposition, e.g., chairman of Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee tells me that if Government does not immediately proceed with its original proposal, thus denying French right of intervention, he will have full Parliamentary support in calling special session to interpellate Prime Minister.

He informed me that President of Republic when receiving communiqué from French delegate to Lebanon stated in substance “If this is attitude of France we consider ourselves no longer under any obligations to you and free to do as we find best”.

Leading Maronite Archbishop, Mubaraq of Beirut, with whom I also talked this afternoon was indignant. The French are going too far, he said, with their pretensions to unqualified mandatory authority; our constitution provides specifically that Parliament can modify it; the Prime Minister has just told me he is issuing strong statement in rebuttal; I have argued that Christian Lebanon needs foreign protection, but this is servitude.

Lebanese Government communiqué issued this afternoon reads substantially as follows:

Ministry has reviewed French communiqué. It considers that modification of constitution is within rights of Lebanese constitutional authorities under article 76 et seq of constitution.

Consequently it has now presented to Parliament bill for modification of certain provisions of constitution in contradiction with countries [country’s] complete and recognized independence.

Bill had had careful study of Ministry in conformity with its announced program of ensuring practical realization of independence.

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