611.83A4/7–2151: Telegram

The Chargé in Lebanon (Bruins) to the Department of State 1

confidential

65. Dept pass Cairo. In private talk with Minister Charles Malik 2 July 20 I discussed tactics of negotiating treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation with Lebanon which he also wishes to see concluded. I suggested best timing might be to proceed right after signing of such treaty between US and Egypt. Malik said he thinks Leb will not necessarily follow Egypt in this. He looks forward to a series of indications that Leb will be less inclined to accept Egyptians cue in foreign relations. This interesting since he is nearing conclusion of lengthy conferences with Leb authorities including President.

I then said we might soon sign FCN treaty with Israel (Deptel 809 of May 22) ,3 adding I had not mentioned this to FonMin or other Leb authorities in belief it might unnecessarily muddy the waters. I also pointed out to him general position as outlined in Dept cirgram Dec 28, 1950, 8:55 a. m.4 that such treaties are not to be regarded as token or special political favor. Malik reacted strongly, saying he hoped I wld report to Dept his personal opinion that such act wld postpone conclusion of treaty between US and Leb or any other Arab state at least 2 years. He believes there is no point in formalizing our already excellent relations with Israel at expense of a further setback in our relations with Arab states. I then asked his opinion of how long it wld take to conclude Leb treaty in event State Dept postpones action on Israel. He said he cld not estimate.

Later same day I called on new FonMin 5 and after finishing several other pending items I asked him about chances of FCN. He said that after summer adjournment of Chamber Deputies in about 10 days he would be ready to discuss changes in wording desired by Dept and thought treaty could not be concluded before Chamber reassembles in [Page 1006]October. He saw no objections in principle but repeated opinion he expressed June 9 that he would have to pick an appropriate time.

In my opinion, Malik, while understanding, friendly and helpful, not above indulging in exaggeration where Arab interests are involved. However it is hard to exaggerate intensity of Leb anti-Israel feelings which are number one deterrent to our aims here since we are labelled as number one Israel friend (see Leg despatch number 20, July 10).6 It will be recalled that we signed Point Four agreement with Leb right after similar one with Israel. Pres told me at that time he wanted agreement word for word like that of Egypt and did not mention Israel angle. Lebs may slightly soften when we get to handing out economic and military grant aid if we are not too delicate to connect that with treaty matter. Leg suggests above be evaluated in connection with immediate advantages Dept expects will be gained from Israel treaty, and that Dept consider whether latter might be postponed to October–November, also taking into account highly touchy feelings in this area intensified by recent political assassinations.

Bruins
  1. Repeated to Cairo and Tel Aviv.
  2. Lebanese Minister to the United States, on consultation in Lebanon.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed. For documentation concerning the policy of the United States to modernize its treaties of friendship, commerce, and navigation, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, pp. 681 ff.
  5. Charles Helou succeeded to the post of Foreign Minister under the new government of Prime Minister Abdullah el-Yafi. The announcement was made on June 7, 1951.
  6. Not found in Department of State files.