783.02/12–1451: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Syria 1

top secret

238. Re Depcirtel 512 Dec 7.2

1. Reps UK and Fr Embs met with Dept Dec 10 and discussed informally fol tentative p[ro]g[ra]m suggested by Dept. No conclusion reached but Dept explained it wld send pgm to you for ur comments and as basis for secret discussion with ur UK, Fr and Turk colleagues if and when they receive instrs. Brit and Fr reps reporting substance pgm FonOffs and Embs London and Paris may wish show this tel to FonOffs. Emb Ankara requested raise possibility pgm this kind with Turks with view eliciting instrs Turk Min Damascus. Turk Emb here generally informed but Ankara is action pt.

2. Pgm begins. First step now agreed US, UK, French and Turks is recognition new govt. This may take place (Depcirtel 512 of Dec 7) near future.3

3. It is in interest West aid Shishikli in efforts he may make to establish pro-West stable and progressive govt in Syria. Such aid [Page 1091] cld hurt as well as help him and consequently shld be adroit, unobtrusive and as substantial as possible but most importantly speedy. Informal comite four chiefs of mission Damascus is valuable instrumentality which cld assist in execution this aid pgm. Believe committee shld now, without revealing fact Syrs, study and report their conclusions re method, timing, type and amount aid (econ, technical, cultural, mil) which might help people of Syria.

4. Even though Shishikli proposes elections two or three months hence, assumed he will set up interim govt program which will doubtless (ref his conversation with Fr Mil Att)4 involve some fon aid for which four reps will be approached individually sooner or later. Since important element decisions US, UK, Fr and Turks to give aid wld be on-the-spot joint evaluation Damascus comite we wld hope members wld pool informally requests received from Shishikli so that dimensions of his wants may be established, competition avoided and duplication of aid effort eliminated. While likely only fraction his needs promptly satisfiable it wld be in common interest for each of four powers assume according their ability appropriate share of burden. If Shishikli does not produce his own program in near future, comite might consider whether desirable stimulate its formulation. This connection comite might wish draft informally illustrative aid outline for study four govts but not for revelation to Syrs taking into account priority Syr needs and desires. Once agreed by Damascus comite and govts such outline might provide useful talking points for individual conversations each of four reps with Shishikli and other Syr leaders—and avoid possibility contradictions or appearance of rivalries. Pgm ends.

5. In various Shishikli conversations he has emphasized two difficult points: (a) supply modern arms and (b) assist improvement Syr-Israel rels. Major difficulties involved both problems but especially latter, and great care shld be taken not mislead Shishikli into idea much can be done re Israeli Believe emphasis shld be placed on getting underway econ aid projects for benefit first of Syr people and Second Arab refugees. With emergence stronger and progressive Syria economically viable and politically stable, relations with Syr neighbors likely to adjust themselves gradually to Syr satisfaction.

6. FYI gen Fr attitude as expressed Fr Emb here is highly favorable to such pgm (Deptel 237 Dec 145). UK much more reserved and inclined move slowly until it is apparent Shishikli regime deserves aid. Brits make pt regime must be “extra strong” to carry weight of [Page 1092] charges that support evidence it is Western creation. Moreover UK not in good position to help re either finances or arms. Turk attitude appears satisfactory.

  1. Repeated to London, Paris, Ankara, Baghdad, Cairo, Jidda, Tel Aviv, Amman, Beirut for Locke, and Jerusalem. Drafted by Gnade (NE) and cleared by Gardiner (NEA), Coe (BNA), Godley (WE), Moore (GTI), Ohly and Emery (S/MSA), and Bingham and Fryer (TCA). Cleared with the Department of Defense by Jones (NEA).
  2. Ante, p. 1088.
  3. See editorial note, supra.
  4. See telegram 334, December 6, from Damascus, p. 1087.
  5. Not printed; it summarized the views of a French Embassy representative concerning the ways in which France would like to contribute to the economic assistance of Syria and to the integration of Syrian refugees (783.02/12–1451).