The Minister to Syria and Lebanon (Wadsworth) to the Secretary of State
[Received 1:20 p.m.]
152. Lebanese Foreign Office yesterday gave me copy of note dated March 20 from French Govt to Lebanese Legation in Paris re date for final evacuation of French troops from Lebanon. Text will be forwarded by airmail.
This note after reviewing negotiations between French and British military experts, in which French experts set date of April 1947 for final evacuation, states that subsequent negotiations with Lebanese delegation explored ways by which Lebanese help in evacuation and advance date thereof. As a result of French Govt requests Lebanese collaboration notably as follows:
- That Lebanese gendarmerie, police and administrative organization would place workers at disposition of French commander for transportation and embarkment of material.
- That Lebanese army would furnish materials and special equipment, as well as guards for installations.
- That a joint Franco-Lebanese état-major 48 be established to aid French and Lebanese commanders in task of evacuation.
Note continues that, on basis of full and efficient collaboration, and subject to Lebanese Govt’s approval of plan, French combatant troops would leave Lebanon by August 31, with no more than 30 officers and 300 technicians left to assume control of transport of material. This remaining contingent to leave Lebanon by end of year.
Note concludes by stating that in response to wish of Lebanese Govt French desire to assure withdrawal of majority of combatant troops before June 30, projected Franco Lebanese état-major to be charged with proposing to French commander the measures to facilitate realization of such program.49
In meantime French aircraft carrier Dixmude has arrived, and is scheduled to depart tomorrow with approximately 1,100 French troops.
Sent Dept as 152; repeated Paris as 24; paraphrases to Arab capitals.
[French and British troops completed their departure from Syria on April 15. A three-day celebration at Damascus was attended by representatives of all Arab states, except Yemen, and of the Arab League. “Keynote theme in official circles has been that after five centuries of foreign domination Syria, now most truly independent of Arab states, may again contribute in full measure to realization of Arab aspirations.” (890D.01/1–2446, 4–1946)
The evacuation of Lebanon was also carried out on schedule. The British Command (British Troops, North Levant) was liquidated as of June 30. The disposition of fixed installations and the settlement of claims became the responsibility of the newly-created British Liquidation Staff, North Levant, which was expected to complete its work in 3 months. French forces, numbering 7,500 in March were reduced to 2,600 as of June 30 (890E.01/7–546). The Franco-Lebanese General Staff announced, in a communiqué, that the Commanding General of French forces and the last of his military units would depart on August 30, leaving behind a liquidation staff (851.24590D/8–2846). The withdrawal of this staff was announced on December 24.[Page 782]
The Lebanese Chamber of Deputies met on December 30 for the first time since total withdrawal of foreign troops. In opening the session, Prime Minister Riad Solh “expressed appreciation of execution by ‘interested powers’ of undertakings to withdraw troops. ‘I wish to make it clear,’ he said, ‘that those undertakings were carried out without the slightest default’.” (890E.032/12–3146)]
- General Staff.↩
- The French proposals to the Lebanese Government were formalized in a letter of March 23 from Mr. Bidault to Mr. Frangié and were accepted by the latter in his reply of the same day. The French and British Representatives at the United Nations sent letters dated April 30 and May 1, respectively, to the President of the Security Council, setting forth the arrangements for the withdrawal of French and British troops from Syria and Lebanon. In a letter of May 9, Mr. Frangié informed the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the satisfaction of his Government with the Franco-Lebanese accord. On May 19, Premier Jabri telegraphed the President of the Security Council that foreign troops had been evacuated from Syria. The texts of the six messages are published in the “Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly Covering the Period from 17 January to 15 July 1946”, pp. 107–113.↩