890D.01/2–2346: Telegram

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

secret

2245. In discussing situation re prospective four-party negotiations on troop withdrawal from Levant States Baxter, head of Eastern Dept Foreign Office, told us that question is obscure and no decision reached as yet on time or place. Re possibility of introducing other items into discussion he said there was no doubt that French were hoping to expand agenda to include such matters as schools but he indicated that this too remained up in the air.

Asked where in circumstances matter now stands, Baxter said that as far as British are concerned plan is to approach French immediately on military angle of question and to urge that evacuation of Syria be completed as soon as possible and that April 30 had been mentioned as final date. Re Lebanon British also intend urging earliest possible evacuation but French so far have indicated reluctance to consider final date for completion of withdrawal. In view of way matter was left by Security Council, however, British intend strongly to press French to fix final evacuation date for Lebanon and if they fail, to proceed with fixing a date for completion of British withdrawal. Baxter added that all this was, of course, subject to change in the course of negotiation but that it represented the way Mr. Bevin’s mind is running at present, and he observed that this sequence of discussions is in accordance with the December 13 agreement which had envisaged that agreement on military level should be completed between British and French before consulting with Syrians and Lebanese.

Sent to Dept as 2245; repeated to Beirut as 14, to Paris as 148.

Winant