883A.14/6–1451: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Lebanon 1

secret

934. Dept appreciates suggestion urtel 758 Jun 142 and agrees resignation Busson may presage decline Fr influence Leb financial and econ affairs. At same time Dept believes any suggestion US endeavoring replace Fr in Levant wld not only have most adverse effect on US-Fr relations (already ruffled re NE, particularly over Malta)3 but might also raise questions in Leb and Syria re US motives. This connection we have clearly indicated to NE govts MSP will be carried out in close collaboration with Fr and UK.

We fully aware difficulties which local Fr reps both official and private have put in way Pt. IV projects in Levant. Leg’s good work in overcoming obstacles Pt. IV raised by Fr commendable, but care must be exercised not overplay hand. Open rift between US and Fr or airing of complaints against Fr before Syrians or Lebs wld have unfortunate psychological effect on NE countries, outweighing any advantages to be derived Amer assistance Lebs or Syrians management financial affairs.

Moreover, we consider long Fr experience Leb and Syrian financial and econ problems shld not be lightly regarded despite anachronistic monetary and banking policies BSL. It is possible recent change BSL direction may indicate Fr themselves aware these imperfections and endeavoring correct them.

In essence we feel Fr entitled to whatever role in Levant commends itself to Syrian and Leb govts and basis US-Fr relations shld be complementary not competitive.

Altho FY 51 funds exhausted Dept wld be willing consider Leb request Amer Fiscal Experts FY52, provided funds appropriated. Request which wld be treated entirely on own merits shld have strong justification. Alternatively Leb since it is member IMF might well consider consultation with IMF with view obtaining needed financial advice and experts thru that org. Dept has no objection your discussing [Page 1005]Leb financial problems with Takla or others but you shld be careful not give impression US seeking Leb request for fiscal experts or that US desires or expects replace Fr in financial affairs.

Foregoing has been discussed with Blandford who concurs in gen approach.

Acheson
  1. Repeated to London. Paris, and Damascus. Drafted by J. R. Barrow (NEA) and G. L. Jones (NE) and cleared by Godley (WE), Milne (MN), and the Technical Cooperation Administration.
  2. Supra.
  3. For information on the Malta talks between British and American military officials on the Island of Malta in January and March 1951, see footnote 5, p. 28, and the letter designated Mil/3039/ME, March 13, p. 94. For documentation on French concern over exclusion from the Malta talks, see volume iv.