783.5 MSP/12–3151: Telegram

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

top secret

386. Deptel 238, Dec 14.2 Brit, French and Turk Mins having received their instructions coordinate, four power reps met at this Leg Dec 28 explore Damascus comite proposals.

Turk Min said his instruction urged concentration upon immed econ aid rather than long-term program. He recalled he had all along recommended mil aid which undeniably had highest priority with present regime. Accordingly he suggested comite of MilAtts of four Legs also meet draw up recommendations.

Brit Min said his instructions were to consider appropriate support provided Damascus comite was of opinion present Syrian regime was stable and “strong”. Turk Min stated general consensus these were relative terms as regards Syria and Selo regime as stable and strong as any we cld expect. Brit Min said we had no concrete evidence yet present regime wld cooperate in econ cooperation or re-integration [Page 1099] program and it was of first importance ascertain Selo govt’s intentions this regard. He felt govt wld, however, accept any and all mil aid and it wld be undesirable stimulate requests for such aid which wld doubtless be inordinate.

French Min did not discuss his instructs in detail but indicated French desired support present govt and considered comite useful. He thought Turk Min’s idea of comite of MilAtts was sound and since France had been only supplier arms to Syria perhaps his MilAtt cld sound out Shishikli as to army’s legitimate needs.

I observed this mtg was exploratory and believed specific recommendations shld await further study and views of our govts. We believed comite shld be maintained as useful means for four power reps exchange views. We left open date for next mtg but indicated it might be soon. I emphasized US aid program had long been in course of preparation and not tailored to present regime. It was designed help Syria strengthen itself especially in econ field and promote favorable atmosphere for other area program such as re-integration of refugees. In this context we hoped our program of support wld recommend itself to Syrian people and therefore to any govt which might be in power here in future.

Leg’s gen views on Damascus comite are set forth in Legtel 387, Dec 31.3 At some stage MilAtts of four power missions must consult together but wld appreciate Dept’s views. We wld not object to French MilAtt approaching Syrian mil authorities when time becomes appropriate provide (1) there is no pretension he acts as spokesman for four powers and (2) it is clearly understood other atts have full freedom similar approach.

  1. Repeated to London, Paris, Amman, Ankara, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Jerusalem, Jidda, and Tripoli.
  2. Ante, p. 1090.
  3. Supra.