The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 4—4:33 p.m.]
1043. Dept’s 962 of March 1. British Embassy, Paris, states agreement was reached Saturday44a between British and French Military Delegation re evacuation of Syria. As indicated in their communiqué, to be issued today, evacuation of British and French troops from Syria will begin March 11 and be completed April 30. Bulk of British troops will be deployed into Iraq, Indian troops to be repatriated, a few hundred to be deployed into Lebanon. French troops remaining in Syria will retire to Lebanon.
Discussions re evacuation of Lebanon are continuing. According to British Embassy, French propose Beirut be evacuated and British troops be grouped south of Beirut and French troops, north. British delegates question practicability of this because of importance of Beirut as leave center headquarters and base for subsequent evacuations.
British state French have accepted principle of eventual complete evacuation of Lebanon but contend evacuation must be gradual and cannot be completed in less than a year because of problem involved in dismantling long-established French bases and transportation of large military stocks. This problem does not exist for British who are prepared to evacuate within short period. French are insisting that at least a token force of British troops remain until French evacuation completed. French have requested transit facilities for 1,000 troops in Suez area for men to be forwarded to Madagascar and Indo-China.
No Syrian delegates are expected to arrive in Paris. Lebanese delegates remaining here have no authority to discuss other than details of evacuation and British feel no political discussions will take place in Paris at this time.
Sent to Washington as 1043; repeated to Beirut as 5; repeated to London as 180.
- March 2.↩