880.2553/3–3051: Telegram

The Minister in Syria ( Cannon ) to the Department of State 1

secret
priority

494. Re Amman 164, March 26,2 from McGhee. Procedures proposed by McGhee for formulating oil policy seem to us excellent as policy and practical as means of facing up to immediate problems.

We suppose proposed declaration to serve double purpose: First, as statement of agreed policy and directive for company negots; and second, as public relations document for polit effect. We wonder if it wld be practicable to have two documents. The first, which perforce must be rather long and technical in language, wld be designed primarily for talks with companies and govts though it need not be withheld from interested segments of the public. The second wld be straightforward statement in simple language for press and popular consumption and to degree possible shld give impression that policy goes beyond declaration of principles and intentions and points up practical operation contemplated under those principles.

As for specific points of recommendations:

1.
We assume “neutral commission” to convey idea of breadth and detachment. Way might be found nevertheless for Arab representation.
2.
Experts will not overlook fact that passage in fifth para of recommendation (1) regarding “producing in transit countries, et cetera, at fair prices related to actual cost” wld accentuate existing marketing companies’ problem in Syria of governmental dissatisfaction with present price structure for petroleum products. Wld seem preferable for US and UK to urge companies involved to make good offer for expeditious solution this problem if possible without implication of pressure under public statement.
3.
Syrian special interest at moment is construction of refinery for domestic requirements. Although SPC committed to build refinery within five years provided no other company does so, suggest oil companies might benefit through increased goodwill by cooperation with Syrian Government construction near future.

Cannon
  1. Repeated to Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Jidda, London, Tehran, and Cairo for McGhee.
  2. Ante, p. 289.