890D.01/3–245: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

2163. A Foreign Office official with whom the situation in the Levant States was discussed made the following observations.

He professed satisfaction with the stand on the Syrian problem recently communicated to the French and Syrian authorities by representatives [Page 1052] of the American Government and he said he thought our action would contribute greatly to a reasonable solution.
During the recent visit there of Bidault the question of the Levant States only came up for cursory discussion and nothing of importance was decided.
The British representative at Damascus reports that the Syrians are becoming increasingly restive because of the failure of the French to indicate their desiderata but the French authorities there say that they are still awaiting instructions from Paris. Meanwhile the French have suggested opening discussion on a modified version of the Convention Universitaire60 but the British have expressed the view that it would seem preferable to begin negotiations on less contentious subjects such as consular rights and establishment.
In the conversation between Churchill and the Syrian president at Cairo61 the latter emphasized that there could be no question of negotiating a treaty with France which would infringe on Syrian independence. Churchill expressed sympathy with this point of view but said he didn’t see why a treaty with the French need necessarily involve derogation of Syrian independence. He went on to say, however, that he felt that the special position of France in the Levant States deserved recognition and developed familiar themes of argument in that connection. To this Kuwatly replied that in any event there could be no question of recognition according to the French a position in Syria which would be on a par with the special position of the British in Iraq. According to the Foreign Office official the conversation was not productive of any conclusive results.
Regarding the declarations of war by Syria and Lebanon the British warned both governments beforehand that they had not been among the countries listed in the Yalta Communiqué62 and that there could be no assurance that their declarations of war would make it possible for them to attain recognition as United Nations. The Foreign Office official added that he was glad that it had been possible to give such prior warning because he was doubtful whether it would be possible to intervene effectively in behalf of Syria and Lebanon at this late date, particularly in view of possible opposition by the French.

Repeated to Beirut as Embassy’s No. 7 and to Paris as 126.

  1. Dated February 26, 1945; copy transmitted to the Department in despatch 705, March 19, 1945, from Beirut (not printed).
  2. February 17, 1945; for Prime Minister Churchill’s statement on these conversations made to the House of Commons February 27, see Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 408, cols. 1287, 1290.
  3. Released to the press February 12, 1945, see Conferences at Malta and Yalta, p. 968.