865.014/8–348: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom

top secret

3048. 1. Now that exploratory talks with Brit and French are concluded and we have good estimate their thinking we agree with you that it is time for you and Amb Caffery to take up matter directly with Bevin and Schuman.

2. To date discussions have centered almost exclusively on those solutions which each of three powers consider preferable and have not taken sufficiently into account political realities with which we will have to deal in General Assembly and which will be deciding factors on what solutions are possible regardless of preference. We are now firmly convinced that only action on part of US Brit and French Govts which will meet our basic interests in area is to advocate postponement of final decision on all of Libya and not to discuss any other solution. This cannot be emphasized too strongly to Bevin and Schuman.

3. As regards Tripolitania you should tell Bevin that we do not consider US trusteeship politically practicable or desirable from either domestic or international point of view and would be unable to accept it were it proposed. Consequently we are opposed to Brit or anyone else proposing American trusteeship in Deputies’ or this year’s General Assembly. You and Amb Caffery may add that we will not support Italian trusteeship for Tripolitania, that we do not believe Italian trusteeship has any chance of acceptance with or without our support and that, therefore, French proposal in Deputies or Assembly would succeed only in making matters more difficult for US and UK. If French, however, go along with us on postponement as only proposal to be advanced all three Powers, they will not have to take stand against Italy and, as suggested below, we can do something for Italy in Italian Somaliland.

4. On Cyrenaica we remain committed to support a solution which will enable Brit to establish requisite bases in that area. We are in full agreement with Brit Govt that ideal means of ensuring their strategic interests, and ours, would be Brit trusteeship. We sincerely believe, however, that Brit trusteeship for Cyrenaica has little if any chance of approval in forthcoming General Assembly. Regardless of apparent world-wide awareness of seriousness of east-west conflict, we are convinced that enough states in Latin America, Middle East, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere will react against what they will consider Brit colonialism sufficiently violently not only to make Brit trusteeship impossible but even to such extent that we have no great confidence we can block independence. In fact we anticipate that drive for independence will be so strong as to make our own position highly uncomfortable [Page 932] at least to point where it will be difficult for us to persuade any considerable number Latin American states to vote against independence, much less for Britain. This situation will be made considerably easier, however, if only Anglo-American-French proposal is postponement because then we can vote against other solutions on basis that postponement has merits per se rather than voting against them on bare issue of independence, Italian trusteeship, etc.

5. If, in spite of this considered view, Brit insist (and you may put it to Mr. Bevin exactly this way) that we support Brit trusteeship as the solution for Cyrenaica, we will of course do so; but we want them to understand that we do not consider such procedure best way of gaining what we both want. Only Brit argument against postponement to which we give any real weight is that until “their title is clear” Brit military cannot begin work on base in Cyrenaica or arrange reduction Brit forces Egypt to treaty strength. As we have all along, we still consider Brit trusteeship ideal solution but our point is that it cannot be attained this year and that therefore more harm than good will result from trying to attain it. We not only believe that they can and should, despite obvious difficulties, go ahead with their base plans for Cyrenaica without a clear title, but we most strongly urge them to do so.

6. As far as cutting down Brit military and financial commitments is concerned, it should certainly be most helpful to HMG to settle question of Italian Somaliland and Eritrea this year. We would prefer, however, that disposition these two colonies be decided concurrently. We agree that Italian Somaliland might be placed under Italian Administration but we will not advocate replacing Italy on two of Ethiopia’s borders. Brit should therefore again be urged agree cession of northern, and predominantly Moslem, portion of Eritrea to Sudan with remainder, including Asmara and access to sea through Massawa, being ceded to Ethiopia.

7. Amb Caffery may add to Schuman that recent conversation between Under Secretary and Italian Amb1 indicates Italian Govt is presently expecting receive no more than Italian Somaliland and in fact Italian Amb personally suggested postponement of all but Somaliland.

  1. The conversation took place July 26, in Washington.