711.56373/6–251: Telegram

The Consul General at Tripoli (Lynch) to the Department of State

top secret

407. In audience with King designate May 29 both he and FonMin expressed conviction that complete accord on strategic facilities agreement cld be reached prior to independence and agrmt signed immed upon independence being established. Neither sees any objection opening informal conversations after July 8 (end of ramadan). Blackley, Brit Resident, in conversation previous to my audience voiced certain reservations to holding of conversations early date. He fears (and with considerable justification) that secrecy wld be non-existent once full scale negots entered into and resultant loose talk locally which wld be encouraged and exploited by local opposition. Also, he fears internatl repercussions. There is little doubt Egypt and Soviet press and radio wld play matter up in worst possible light.

Both King designate and FonMin shy away from idea of any Amer group of experts (see mytel 378, May 19)1 and cannot understand [Page 1326]why one man shld not be able to protect all Amer interests. As Ali Bey Jerbi put it, Libya has no apparatus which wld permit it to set up corresponding group. While I did not specifically refer to “team” or “group” mere idea of more than 2 or 3 persons at most is upsetting to them. It might be advisable keep certain number technical experts in background at Wheelus Field in advisory capacity during conversations.

King designate and FonMin emphasized Libya’s lack of experience in matters of this kind and FonMin suggested that we might give them advance draft and adequate time to study it before opening conversations. I do not know whether this procedure practicable. In last analysis provincial govt (which will almost certainly mean FonMin Ali Bey Jerbi, PriMin Mahmoud Muntasser, FinMin Mansour Gerdara and Defense Min Amar Shennaib) will probably be advised by Brit experts.

Throughout conversation it was apparent that King designate and FonMin fully expect receive money payments for strategic facilities. I talked of benefit to economy of base expansion, housing projects, runway extension, money spent by Amer personnel and Departmental studies of possible econ aid et cetera other than Point Four and my remarks were recd with complete and obvious lack of interest. I suggest time now ripe to abandon make-believe of obtaining facilities in return for anything but annual cash payments.

Lynch
  1. Presumably this refers to telegram 378, from Tripoli, May 11, in which Lynch reported that Mitchell of the Air Force informed him of plans to send a negotiating team to assist when talks started with the Foreign Minister. (711.56373/5–1151)