357.AG/5–350: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consulate in Tripoli 1

55. Delli 14. Evidence exists there appears to be misunderstanding and misinterpretation current US policy re Libya. Recent rather widespread and at times erroneous reports about UK plans re future Libya and speculations on US position have undoubtedly contributed this trend. It also appears Arab League and Egyptian polit pressure (urtel Lidel 25 and Tripoli’s tel 108)2 being applied to influence certain members UN Council for Libya and some local polit leaders in such manner that if this continues US might find itself frequently in minority voting against what may be made appear as desires Libyan peoples.

US has two main objectives in Libya: (1) In assoc with UK, to obtain right continue use US and UK mil facilities that area, and (2) to assist implementation Nov ’49 UNGA res which looks forward estab independent and sovereign Libya by Jan 1, 1952. In achieving these objectives US desires have so far as possible friendship, understanding and respect peoples inhabiting Libya, of Arab states interested in Libyan problem, and of other members UN. We do not wish have our true intentions, motivations or policy subj of suspicion. We recognize during next year and a half there will be many forms pressure in support various programs for estab of an independent Libya. We are willing consider all suggestions and proposals within framework GA res and our policy set forth above.

Dept accordingly believes advisable you state US views constitutional development program Libya earliest suitable opportunity in Council mtg. Purpose explaining US position wld be dispel any suspicions Libyans, Arab states and others, assist Brit and Pelt in their plans and get work of Council going on moderate basis within its terms ref. Before making US policy statement in Council you shld discuss statement with Brit and Pelt and also, at your discretion, inform other members Council. Statement shld be along fol lines:

US Del in last session GA strongly supported res re Libya. That res is basis on which US intends proceed and US is confident it is basis on which all other parties concerned with estab independent Libyan state by Jan 1, 1952 desire proceed. Objectives stated in res and powers UN Commissioner and Council for Libya set forth in res are of great importance and shld be clearly understood so res can be properly implemented.
Major objective GA res is clearly that Libya shld be constituted an independent and sovereign State by Jan 1, 1952. It is equally clear GA had no intention specifying form govt to be estab in Libya and specifically left that very important matter to be determined by representatives of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan mtg and consulting together in a Natl Assembly. It is not for this Council or UN Commissioner, nor for administering powers, to determine form govt but for representatives of three terrs comprising Libya to work out. Of course, people in Libya shld be assisted in this task by administering powers and UN Commissioner. Task of Council is that of aiding and advising UN Commissioner in this regard.
Very important task of preparing country for independence, under para 10 of res, is given specifically to admin powers who are to do certain things set forth in that para in coop with UN Commissioner. Thus sub paras A and B of para 10 outline measures to be taken during interim period preceding independence Libya. On these matters Council can quite properly give advice to Commissioner but US believes fundamental responsibility rests with Commissioner. Commissioner in turn cannot act alone or directly since para 10 prescribes that admin Powers in coop with Commissioner are to take these steps.
Since question of establishing suitable program for constitutional development Libya raised (presumably by Pelt by time this statement is made) US views on this matter are as follows:
Step shld be taken immed by admin Powers to estab maximum possible local governmental institutions managed by inhabitants in Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan. This is essential basis on which to build govt for Libya as whole. In case of Libya such local govts appear necessary in order to have democratic selection of representatives three terr who will serve in Preparatory Comite and, eventually, in Natl Assembly. Therefore US believes admin Powers shld continue process of setting up such local governmental institutions as rapidly as possible. This means elections shld be held without delay so preparatory comite can be formed to consider form of Libyan govt to be estab.
Without wishing prejudge matter which shld be decided by people of Libya, US of opinion, after considerable study, that federal form of govt wld be best suited Libya. Due to rather formidable desert barriers separating Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan, different mode of life and stage of development in each area, and traditional preference people in many areas for strong local govt it appears a federal structure wld be most reasonable and efficient form of govt for future Libyan state. We believe federal form govt will provide maximum local autonomy for three areas on one hand and on other, will permit effective central govt for those matters of national concern.

  1. Repeated to London, Paris, Rome, Cairo, and Karachi.
  2. Neither printed.