711.56373/5–1951: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Department of State 1

top secret

6030. Points contained Deptel 5234 May 152 discussed at some length with Allen, African Dept, yesterday. Fol is synthesis his tentative views:

He agreed question US–UK bases Libya almost certain be raised next GA. While acknowledging neither GA nor Pelt shld legitimately concern themselves this question, he thought fact of matter was that considerable number of members wld insist on seeing drafts or texts any agrmts on pretext GA had insure they presented no impediment effective Libyan independence. It might well be impossible or undesirable refuse submit agrmts. If this done while agrmts still in draft stage, “sixty academic lawyers” wld tear them to pieces, which UK anxious avoid. If, on other hand, agrmts were negotiated and signed with independent Libyan Govt before GA had chance look at them, then GA’s only recourse, if it did not like agrmts, wld be nullify Libyan independence and demand extension preparatory period. Doubtful this wld command two-thirds majority.
Re earlier independence, Allen doubted it wld be mechanically possible for Libya to proclaim independence before mid Nov, citing slowness constituent assembly, delays involved in organizing elections and difficulties getting together integrated govt team. Allen said he frankly did not think much of earlier independence as a GA tactic. It might backfire on us and arouse much criticism that we had presented GA with fait accompli. He indicated that nevertheless it might have advantages outweighing this danger and said UK has not closed its mind on subj.
He thought it shld be possible, however, delay consideration Libyan matter sufficiently long by placing it low on agenda and said Pelt had undertaken cooperate in this. Allen felt that with other crucial issues due to come up in forthcoming mtg, there wld be little interest in Libya.
Allen did not feel it wld be practicable negotiate interim agrmt with provisional Libyan Govt since he did not see how UK and Fr cld possibly turn over treaty making power. In first place, it wld be difficult relinquish this power in isolation and secondly it is by no means apparent that provisional Libyan Govt in its present embryonic stage cld prudently exercise it. In short, he thought there were far-reaching legal and practical objections to this course.
He said present FonOff thinking is merely to show text of proposed UK agrmt to few Libyans (he mentioned Emir, Jerbi and Mahmud Mumtassir) before Libyan independence, leaving negots as well as signing until after independence. No hard and fast decision reached however and it is possible sufficient progress might be made thru these informal conversations before independence that agrmt cld be reached within matter of days thereafter. If any considerable delay [Page 1325]in signing entailed, UK wld probably regularize presence Brit troops by exchange ltrs or notes.
Work continuing on UK draft agrmt. Present thinking is that it shld be as short and simple as possible, covering alliance, bases in gen terms, and payment therefore along similar lines to Jordan and Iraqi treaties. More complicated mil aspects, including schedules of required facilities, wld be contained in supplementary agrmt which might be negotiated after signature of treaty, but it wld also be registered with UN.
Allen felt it wld be highly desirable if US, UK and Fr exchanged draft agrmts for mutual comments before discussions with Libyans.
In response our question, Allen doubted UK wld ask for precedence for UK dipl rep.

Comment: Emb is furnishing Allen with informal written summary Dept’s views as contained Dept reftel with exception last two paras and plans discuss matter further with FonOff at early date. Re negot treaties, we are somewhat disturbed by indications UK may not undertake any negots in more formal sense of word until after independence, whereas Dept wishes make every effort reach full agrmt before independence. Emb feels it essential all three powers concerned shld so coordinate their plans that activities of one do not prejudice objectives of others. Emb feels it wld be highly desirably for same reason that three powers exchange texts before discussion with Libyans, as we assume Dept for its part still intends to do.

  1. Repeated to Tripoli.
  2. Supra.