501.BB/2–846: Telegram

The United States Representative at the United Nations (Stettinius) to the Secretary of State

secret
urgent

1553. This is DelUN 245. DelUN 233, February 5,31 and 248, February 6.32 Following is submitted regarding the dispute brought by Syria and Lebanon which may come before Security Council meeting February 9 or 11.

In conversation with me Bidault and Massigli33 yesterday evening (DelUN 253, February 734) indicated apparent willingness that Syrian and Lebanese presentations of the case should be heard promptly by Security Council and that the French should then and probably without making answer to such presentations express willingness to engage in quadrilateral negotiations, case to remain on agenda with parties undertaking to keep Security Council informed of progress of negotiations.

In another conversation at same hour, Faris [el-]Khouri gave Wadsworth informally to understand that Syrians and Lebanese would probably be prepared to state their case very simply, without recriminations based on past incidents, and would not oppose direct negotiations with British and French on condition that, as regards withdrawal of troops, negotiations proceed on principle of pari passu withdrawal from Lebanon and Syria in such way as to be completed simultaneously by British and French troops and at earliest date consistent with technical considerations.

Khouri indicated that by phrase “to state case very simply” he had in mind setting forth that troops were those of Allied powers whose arrival in 1941 and presence during war years had been welcomed and facilitated by Syrians and Lebanese in prosecution of common cause against Axis; that, with victory of Allied armies, continuing presence of any of such troops was no longer necessary and in [Page 765]fact constituted infringement on sovereignty of fully independent Levant States; and consequently that Syria and Lebanon, fully cognizant of their responsibilities for maintenance of security within their territories and fully competent to meet such responsibilities, had formally requested “total and simultaneous withdrawal”.

Khouri indicated in conclusion that by phrase “earliest date consistent with technical considerations” he had in mind (but would not necessarily elaborate the point publicly unless constrained thereto by French rebuttal) that removal should not be conditioned on political expediency or possible future UN consideration of collective regional security but on the contrary would be begun immediately and completed with all reasonable technical expedition (e.g. within a maximum of next 6 months) by both powers.

I consider it preferable to avoid a full-dress debate of this dispute during the current London sittings of SC. I have in mind, unless Department is of different view, informally working to that end along the lines of the outcome in the Iranian case.35 It seems possible that we might be successful in obtaining advance agreement among delegations principally concerned that Syria and Lebanon’s case be heard, that France and the UK indicate readiness to negotiate, that Syria and Lebanon do the same; and that SC then adopt a resolution taking cognizance of the statements, noting readiness of parties to negotiate without delay, and requesting the parties to keep SC informed on progress of negotiations and results achieved, the matter meantime to remain on the agenda.

The Secretary General’s suggestion this morning that SC’s remaining sittings here be today, possibly Saturday, February 9 then daily as required beginning Monday, February 11 through Friday, February 15 makes likely the raising of this question February 11 or possibly 9, if the Indonesian discussion is not extended.

Stettinius
  1. Not printed, but see footnote 26, p. 761.
  2. Supra.
  3. René Massigli, French Ambassador in the United Kingdom and member of the French delegation at the United Nations.
  4. Not printed.
  5. In that case the Security Council reached unanimous agreement on a resolution which took cognizance of the readiness of the Soviet Union and Iran to seek a solution of their dispute by bilateral negotiation, requested the parties to report the results, and retained the right of the Council to request information at any time as to the progress of the negotiations; see telegram 1166, January 30, from London, p. 325.