865.014/8–1947: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Clark) to the Secretary of State

top secret

4487. 1. When advised that both Utter and Palmer1 would be in London August 18, Michael Wright2 expressed a desire to discuss with them most informally questions relating to disposal of Italian colonies, and more particularly Cyrenaica. At luncheon, including Lewis Jones,3 Wright stressed fact that there is no Cabinet decision in London as to whether British will remain in Near East at all and if they do, whether Cyrenaica is, in circumstances, most desirable base for them. Wright would not predict when these decisions would be taken, but said matter is receiving urgent study by British authorities. He reiterated his personal views as described in Emtel 4398, August 14.4

2. Only new information obtained from Wright was his admission that British Government has formulated no views how British base Cyrenaica could be brought into being. Wright said three alternatives under consideration are:

Sole British trusteeship;
British strategic trusteeship;
Independence with understanding between British and Sayid Idriss regarding lease of strategic bases.

Wright made it clear that present trend of British thinking is to regard Cyrenaica, where vital British interests are centered, as separate from problem of Tripolitania and other Italian colonies.

3. Wright said that in his view, this is instance calling for close Anglo-American cooperation and pooling of US and British ideas. He said US views as to how Cyrenaica base might be secured for Britain would be of greatest help to Foreign Office, because “after all, you Americans started this trusteeship business and should be able to think a way out of the present box into which we seem to be placed”.

4. Wright will report latest developments to same group (see Paragraph 1) just prior to Palmer’s departure for Washington August 30. Meanwhile, it is obvious that Wright hopes that, while time is not yet ripe on British side to discuss this question at high level between governments, all US officials concerned (State, War, Navy, etc.) would formulate the general US view on all aspects this question in preparation for later discussions.

5. Wright’s views and fact that he has talked to Embassy so frankly should be closely guarded until British Cabinet takes its decision regarding Near East base and formal US-British talks begin.

  1. Joseph Palmer II, assistant chief, Division of African Affairs.
  2. Assistant Under-Secretary of State in the British Foreign Office.
  3. George Lewis Jones, second secretary at the Embassy in London.
  4. Not printed.