The Chargé in Lebanon (Bruins) to the Department of State 1
132. Dept pass Cairo. After talks with Charles Malik and FonMin July 20 (Legtel 65, July 21)2 on FCN treaty negotiations, I decided in view of FonMins desire to postpone talks until Chamber of Deputies adjourns (now planned for Aug 21) and in view some press items to effect Legation is trying to force assistance upon Lebanese, that a period of letting Lebs authorities alone would be best tactics for present. Consequently I have made no appointments at FonOff since July 20 and when social opportunities offered have remarked to appropriate officials that door is open for discussions on aid and FCN any time but since all this is primarily for benefit of Lebs, we are not urging matter and further initiative is up to them.
Deptel 108, July 303 directing exactly same procedure as regards FCN was most timely. I conveyed message in it to Malik Aug 1, the very day before he had a long discussion with the Pres and entire cab covering various angles of Leb-US relations. No such conference had ever been held before. Malik’s immediate reaction was one of seriousness and a desire to confer about it with high authorities. He said it put a big responsibility on him and he was very glad to have Dept’s views before conference of Aug 2. Thereafter, he said he wanted to have another private talk with FonMin, and other officials before giving me full report.
Meanwhile on occasion US fleet visit Aug 6, I had long talk with PriMin (Legdesp 69, Aug 7)4 mainly on Communist danger in which he concluded that with our help he wanted to make Leb a leader and a model among Arab states toward alignment with West without losing its own national characteristics. I said we certainly welcomed this statement and would be happy to have Leb be first Arab country [Page 1008]to sign FCN treaty with US and did he think Leb wld have the courage to do it. He replied he personally wld favor it, but could not make further promises at present.
Aug 8 Malik said he could now convey definite reaction of his govt on FCN, namely that attitude toward US continues friendly and they agree in principle but regard present time politically most inopportune for concluding matter. He said postponement is not due to Soviet influences but almost entirely to situation in and among Arab states. Leb relations with Syria are in bad state not to mention chaos in Syrian Govt. Throne of Jordania swaying in air. Egypt is especially touchy due to canal situation and difficulties with British. In fact there could hardly be a worse moment politically for Leb to step out and sign treaty.
I reminded Malik of statement in Deptel 108 that signature has long been postponed for variety of reasons having no relation to treaty itself and thus Leb is merely continuing to recant as before. He said this is true but we could not expect Lebanon to deal with US independently of its relations with neighbors. He added there are no present impediments to continued smooth political and economic relations between US and Lebanon and as in past minor troubles can be dealt with through normal channels whether there is a treaty or not, also that US has similar relations with many European and other countries and has given them large amounts of aid without existence of comparable treaty relationship.
To my inquiry whether Lebanon is not reading more into this treaty than is really in it, since we regard it as logical first step toward closer relations rather than as fruition of friendship, Malik replied both Lebanon and neighbors wld regard treaty as political move having important implications in Arab world and that this govt simply will not take the step until general situation improves. They regard expected ratification this month of Point Four agreement by Chamber of Deputies as being as much of a forward step [as] they could take with US under existing circumstances.
For present Legation will continue tactics outlined in Deptel 108 unless otherwise instructed.