Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Rusk)1


Participants: Ambassador Tarchiani
Mr. Rusk, G
Mr. Greene, SWE

Ambassador Tarchiani called by appointment; he said that he is leaving at the end of the week for a month’s leave in Italy, and wanted to be able to report to the Foreign Minister in Rome the views of the United States on the disposition of the former Italian colonies.

I told the Ambassador that the Department of State has been considering the question in the light of developments at and since the last session of the General Assembly. I added that the Department felt somewhat handicapped by not having available the current thinking of our friends, or their informal reactions to the views which, I understood, had been informally conveyed to them at a working level.

I observed that I would be glad to outline for him the general lines of the Department’s current thinking, and wanted to be sure that it be understood that these views do not necessarily constitute a fixed position and that we would welcome the comments of other interested governments.

I told the Ambassador that for Libya we are thinking about independence at an early date, probably not more than three years hence; that the nature of the Libyan state should probably be left to the determination of the inhabitants; and that during the interim prior to complete independence, there should be an advisory council, comprising the United Kingdom, France, Italy, United States and Egypt, to advise the present administration on the development of the area toward independence. After the interim period, all governments desiring to enter into relations with the Libyan Government will of course be free to seek appropriate treaty arrangements.

Regarding Eritrea, I said that we continued to favor the cession of all except the western province to Ethiopia with appropriate municipal charters for Asmara and Massawa; we felt that the best disposition of the western province would be its annexation to the Sudan.

With regard to Italian Somaliland I said that Italian trusteeship is our preference.

[Page 569]

In reply to the Ambassador’s question, I said that the Department has had no indication of the views of the British Government. The Ambassador observed that in his opinion, the French Government might not like the idea of establishing an independent Libya, and he went on to discuss the differences between the social structures in Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, indicating that these differences are not in his view conducive to successfully uniting them into one country. At the same time, he said, he appreciates the difficulties attendant upon the creation of small states in the present world situation as well as the difficulties of determining the disposition of Fezzan if Tripolitania and Cyrenaica are separated.

I again assured the Ambassador that the Department would be glad to have a detailed expression of the Italian Government’s views on the whole question.

Dean Rusk
  1. Drafted by Joseph N. Greene, Jr.