773.00/2–2450: Telegram

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

1061. 1. Pelt, who concluded London conversations yesterday and sails on Queen Mary today, informed us last evening talks with UK Foreign Office had been very satisfactory and that agreement had been reached on practically all important issues. Basis of understanding is that nothing British do by way setting up local government in territories prior convocation National Assembly will impinge on competence that body decide future form Libyan state. Pelt described problem as, on one hand, need for educating Libyans for self-rule, and, on other, importance of avoiding rigid situation affecting question of Libyan union. He appears fully satisfied that his own and UK points of view on this score have been reconciled.

2. Talks here with French Ambassador, however, were inconclusive because Quai d’Orsay has still not furnished promised statement of position on Fezzan. Pelt has received assurances of French desire cooperate in carrying out UN Resolution and has now been told French statement will be sent to Chauvel1 in New York for talks there. Pelt says he appreciates importance of Fezzan as political issue in France and therefore difficulties faced by French Cabinet on subject. He feels confident of good-will of Quai d’Orsay, says he is glad for understanding with British not only for its own sake but for effect it likely to have on French. He gave Massigli yesterday afternoon gist of his agreement with Britain.

3. Conversation with Strang and other UK Foreign Office officials described as “informal talks”, since on British side are subject to ministerial consideration, while Pelt will want refer agreement to his advisory council. Within this framework, Pelt is now reassured that British program will be consistent with UN Resolution. Timetable for three phases British plans in Tripoli is such, Pelt informed, that third phase is not scheduled for quite some time and will allow ample opportunity for Preparatory Committee and National Assembly meet to debate future of Libya in accordance with UN Resolution. Furthermore, in implementation of first and second phases, Tripoli will be given no power or competence prejudicing formation of Libyan state.

4. On Cyrenaica, Pelt said he had wanted clarify British intentions in connection with transfer of powers to Emir and his own confusion over MacNeil’s2 use of term “sovereignty” in General Assembly when [Page 1609] discussing proposed transfer. Foreign Office officials have assured Pelt that this was slip of tongue and that there is no question of pretending pass on to Emir any sovereign powers in Cyrenaica (which Pelt points out British do not possess). Formula agreed on by Pelt and Foreign Office is that transfer of powers in Cyrenaica must be consistent with UN Resolution.

5. Foreign Office has also told Pelt it is prepared use terms “administrative council” to describe body envisaged under first phase UK program in Tripoli. This body, in Pelt’s words will “advise on matters of administrative nature affecting Tripoli.” Excluded from competence of council will be such questions as use of troops, matters of defense and anything which might prejudice future form of Libyan state. There was also agreement that council should have Libyan majority and that it should have one Italian member.

6. Point of difference still exists over chairmanship of council. Pelt’s feeling, in light of Dutch practice elsewhere (e.g. Surinam and Curacao), is that British administrator should not be chairman of council or member and that there should be Libyan chairman. Foreign Office intention is that British administrator should be chairman of council. Compromise agreed on is that Foreign Office will seek advice on this point from Blackley, who will consult local people for their views.

7. On second and third phases, Pelt described results of talks with Foreign Office as compromise on his part over former in return for assurances on latter. Assembly envisaged by UK in second phase will be termed “administrative chamber” and will be law making body for Tripoli. Pelt himself says that this will provide Libyans very useful education, especially since body will consider matters of considerable importance, such as budget. Pelt’s fears re effect on future of Libya alleviated in that such matters as defense, religious administration, and anything properly pertaining to Libyan National Assembly will be reserved subjects not falling within competence of Chamber. Pelt is satisfied with checks on authority of Chamber remaining in British hands. He advanced point mentioned by Clutton3 earlier in week (Embtel 1025, February 224) that either legislative body or electoral rolls will provide means of designation Tripoli representatives to Preparatory Committee.

8. As for third phase providing further extension powers to local organs of government, any question of conflict with Pelt’s plans in convening Preparatory Committee and National Assembly avoided simply by British assurance to Pelt that UK has no intention effecting [Page 1610] this phase for perhaps another year or more or, in other words, before there has been chance for Preparatory Committee and National Assembly to meet and decide future form of Libya. Pelt concern over earlier British talk of drawing up constitution for Tripoli is also relieved by assurance that this idea will not be pursued in any way to detriment of future Libya. There is further understanding that UK Government will for present make no announcement of third phase of program.

9. According Pelt, Foreign Office officials agreed with his idea that Preparatory Committee for discussing National Assembly should be composed of equal number of delegates from each of three territories so that thorny question of proportional representation could be avoided right from start. They also accepted his views that function this committee should be two-fold: (1) to agree on underlying issues affecting future form of Libyan state; (2) to determine methods and means for selection of representatives to National Assembly.5

Repeated Paris 305, Rome 91, pouched Moscow; Department pass Tripoli unnumbered.

  1. Jean Chauvel, French permanent representative at the United Nations Security Council.
  2. Hector MacNeil, British Minister of State.
  3. George L. Clutton, Head of the African Department, British Foreign Office.
  4. Not printed; it transmitted an interim report on the talks between Pelt and the Foreign Office (357.AG/2–2250).
  5. In telegram 1072, sent 6 p. m., February 24, Holmes reported that Clutton had confirmed this report on the talks with Pelt, stating that “by clearing up misunderstanding about proposed UK measures and yielding to Pelt on terminology and other minor points, Foreign Office succeeded in reaching practically complete agreement with UN commissioner (in Clutton’s words, without really budging an inch).” (773.00/2–2450)