890D.01/1–1146: Telegram

The Chargé in Lebanon (Mattison) to the Secretary of State

secret

27. Today I called on Acting ForMin (PriMin)12 at his request.

Chief subject of discussion was AP report, dated January 9, from New York which in substance stated that spokesman of Department had characterized as “inexact” information received from Cairo to effect that Syrian and Lebanese delegates to UNO had received “assurances” of US dissatisfaction with Anglo-French Levant agreement.

The New York Times’ Washington correspondent was reported as stating that Levant Governments had asked Department’s views on accord, and that Department had replied that it had no comment as it was not party thereto. Spokesman was quoted as saying “US Government had given no assurances”.

PriMin requested that I ascertain from Department facts of case, and desired that I make known that his Government was under criticism for not having taken more energetic steps towards securing US support in connection with Lebanese position on Anglo-French Levant agreement.

I pointed out that position of United States Government with regard to Lebanese independence was well known, and that our recognition had been unconditional.13 PriMin replied that he was aware of this, and was grateful, but in view of current state of public opinion reports of nature described created uneasiness, at a time when above all he wished to maintain calm (i.e. during UNO meeting). While he did [Page 756]not specifically say that he desired a reply suitable for publication, he gave impression that such would be welcome.

I inquired whether report which I had received yesterday to effect that further French troops were en route to Lebanon was true. He replied in affirmative, adding that French had informed him that these consisted of replacements, and that for some 200 en route 400 would be withdrawn. I commented on fact that French had informed Lebanese in advance, and added that this would seem to represent concession to Lebanese point of view. He replied that this was immaterial. Government saw no need for replacements since evacuation was agreed upon, and that secondly French were replacing the “blind and sick” with trained airforce technicians.

He then inquired regarding my reaction to Lebanese note to French and British (reLegtel 25 of January 1014). I replied that I found it clear exposition of Lebanese viewpoint, and had telegraphed Washington summary thereof.

As I left, Russian Minister Solod entered, and I presume that he was being questioned on same point.

PriMin was obviously worried, and while this may be partially due to his fear of public criticism of his Government, it was quite apparent that he was concerned with current uneasiness, and was trying to secure every possible support for Lebanon’s international position, thereby keeping situation in hand during UNO session.

Repeated to Paris as 12; to London (for Wadsworth) as 13. Sent to Department as 27.

Mattison
  1. Sami Solh.
  2. For documentation on recognition of the independence of Syria and Lebanon by the United States, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. v, pp. 774 ff.
  3. Not printed, but see footnote 11, p. 751.