865.014/7–1449: Telegram

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

top secret

2760. Deptel 2416, July 13.1

Clutton’s thinking re postponement was reported Embassy’s 2565, July 1,2 as “strictly personal” on his admonition at that time. During discussions with De Margerie, it was presented to French as an idea which had occurred to Foreign Office. It was never an exclusive line of thought and Clutton today stated that after further study, Foreign Office does not think much of idea, although he added that “no one in Foreign Office would cry their eyes out if there were no solution in September.”
Clutton furnished information in following paragraphs in highest confidence, with request it not be discussed outside Department, not even with British Embassy Washington. He emphasized embarrassment which would be caused if French or Italians learned of it.
Foreign Office now thinking in terms early independence for United Libya. This idea has been passed “high” for a “tentative decision” which he hopes will be forthcoming by end of week. He anticipates that it would be discussed with Department soon thereafter.
Commenting on complications which such a decision would cause in Anglo-French relations, Clutton stated there would be “first class row.” Foreign Office now believes, however, that independence is inevitable [Page 567] regardless of GA decision. Clutton stated “we may be able to control situation in GA by defeating undesirable proposals but we cannot control them in the field.” Since independence inevitable, it would be to UK and US advantage to climb on bandwagon and thereby gain good will of Arabs.
Foreign Office now studying possible lines of action in intervening period between GA resolution for independence and actual implementation. Clutton felt it would be preferable if UK alone gave effect to recommendation in accordance with reasoning that being in control of territory, it alone of four powers mentioned in Italian peace treaty is capable of doing so. (Asked about Fezzan, Clutton stated that if UK introduced resolution for independence, they would probably omit reference to Fezzan and leave it for others to amend resolution to include it.) He recognized UN would wish retain some control over situation during intervening period in order satisfy itself that GA resolution being carried out and British Government would be willing make reports to GA during this period. He supposed idea of advisory council during transition period would be raised and he had mixed feelings re desirability. On one hand it would reassure Assembly its resolution being carried out and it might be helpful to administration to have other states involved in turnover. On other hand it could be hindrance to British plans and center of intrigue.
If Foreign Office decides in favor independence, British wish make every effort obtain maximum satisfaction for Italians in Libya. Foreign Office does not, however, feel this could be best accomplished by endeavoring to incorporate in GA resolution provision for negotiation economic treaty between Libya and Italy. If Italy willing to take its chances on negotiating such a treaty after independence, British willing do everything possible facilitate such negotiations.
Clutton envisages future Libyan state as probably federalized with large degree local autonomy Tripolitania. When asked re UK treaty, Clutton stated this would be negotiated in interval between GA resolution and implementation independence.
If tentative decision taken on new line of thinking, matter be discussed with Emir within next two weeks and his aid enlisted.
In view frankness displayed by Clutton in recent conversations, Embassy convinced that attitude attributed to Blackley3 in final paragraph Tripoli’s 171 to Department does not represent British policy.4
  1. Not printed; it asked whether Clutton’s views described as “strictly personal reflections” had Foreign Office approval (865.014/7–149).
  2. Not printed; it reported on the personal views expressed by Clutton on various issues of the colonial question (865.014/7–149).
  3. Travers Robert Blackley, British Chief Administrator in Tripolitania.
  4. Not printed; in it Taft referred to Blackley’s “personal opinion” that the Bevin-Sforza plan was dead and that a solution should he arrived at by talks among the European powers. Taft indicated that Blackley’s comments showed that “he feels US should be kept out of the final solution” (865.014/7–1349).