Secretary’s Memoranda: Lot 53 D 444

Memorandum by the Secretary of State to the President 1

secret

Subject: Elevation to Legation Status of United States Consulate General at Tripoli, Libya.

I believe that it would be in the interest of the United States to change the rank of our representation in Libya from a Consulate General at Tripoli to a Legation as soon as Libya becomes independent.

An American Consulate was established at Tripoli in 1948. The Consulate was raised to a Consulate General in 1949. Another Consulate was opened at Benghazi in 1950.

The United Nations General Assembly decided on November 21, 1949 that Libya should become independent as soon as possible and in any case not later than January 1, 1952. The Libyan National Assembly has almost completed the formulation of the constitution of the new state. A program for the transfer of governmental powers from the British and French Administering Authorities to the Provisional Government of Libya is now being put into effect. This conveyance of authority may be completed by the end of November.

The United States exercised leadership in the disposition of Libya as one of the former Italian colonies and played an important role in the adoption of the General Assembly decisions that Libya should be independent and should be admitted to membership in the United Nations. In addition to our general interests in Libya, this Government has important strategic interests in our air base (Wheelus Field) near Tripoli as well as in other extensive military requirements. The right to continue to use these facilities after Libya becomes independent is being negotiated secretly with the Provisional Government of Libya. That Government is friendly toward the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Foreign Minister of the Provisional Government of Libya who visited Washington last November and with whom our representatives have established excellent working relations, has expressed hope of receiving diplomatic representatives of other countries in Tripoli. The United Kingdom plans to establish a Legation in Libya. I believe that an American Legation would prove of considerable assistance in developing firm, friendly relations between the United States and Libya and would facilitate the continued use of those military facilities which are important to our national security.

If you approve, the Department of State will undertake arrangements to elevate the Consulate General at Tripoli to the rank of Legation [Page 1347]as soon as Libya becomes independent. If you agree, I also recommend that Mr. Henry S. Villard, a Foreign Service Officer of Class I, who has been associated for many years with Near Eastern and African affairs, be appointed as the first American Minister to Libya. Enclosed for your convenience is a summary of biographic information on Mr. Villard.2

Dean Acheson
  1. Drafted by Messrs. Rose and Wellons (NEA). The source text bears the notation “Approved by President 11/2/51.”
  2. Not printed.