IO Files: Lot 71 D 440

Position Paper Prepared in the Department of State1

SD/A/C. 1/374/Add 1/Rev. 1

United States Position on Probable Soviet and Arab Challenges Regarding US and UK Military Bases in Libya

the problem

The problem is to determine the manner in which the United States can most effectively combat Soviet and perhaps Arab accusations in [Page 1360] the General Assembly that the Americans and British are establishing military bases in Libya which threaten the independence of that country and which are intended to be used for “imperialistic aggression”. At the 1950 Session of the GA the Soviet Union introduced a resolution which provided that all foreign troops and military personnel be withdrawn from Libya within three months and that military bases be dismantled. This resolution received the support of several Arab States but was rejected by a vote of 38–13 with 8 abstentions. The problem in the Sixth GA will be to reject any such Soviet proposal and explain to the satisfaction of most Members the reasons for the presence of American military bases in Libya and the defensive purposes for which they might be used.


The US delegation should vigorously reject any charges (from Soviet, Arab or other sources) against or attempt to eliminate the existence of our military facilities in Libya.
The delegation should emphasize that during the period of British Administration of Libya, our arrangements with the British governing our use of Wheelus Field were legal and fully within the authority of the British to make.
The delegation should state, if necessary, that the US Government has arranged for the use of certain military facilities in Libya through an exchange of notes on December 24, 1951, with the new government of Independent Libya and that eventually an agreement will be concluded on this matter. The delegation should maintain that any such agreement between the US and Libya concerns only the two sovereign states involved and is, therefore, not a matter in which the GA should intervene. However, the agreement will be in conformity with the UN Charter and the text of the agreement will be registered with the UN as required by the Charter.
The delegation may indicate that, in line with the purposes of such military arrangements, namely to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, the facilities in question could if Libya and the US agree, be used as an element in support of collective measures taken or adopted by the United Nations in the event of aggression.


The delegation could state that the American Airbase, Wheelus Field, was built and used by American Forces during the last war and has been in operation since then as a transportation and communications base to other areas in the Near East (e.g. Greece, Turkey, Dhahran). It also serves our forces in Germany and other parts of Western Europe.

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If the debate in the GA should require an affirmative American statement regarding the use to which such a base might be put in the future, the delegation should pursue the following course:

  • a. Emphasize that the US has contributed heavily to the maintenance of collective security in many parts of the world.
  • b. Emphasize that the US intends to contribute to the implementation of the “uniting for peace” resolution adopted by the GA last year. In order to do this the US will, of course, use whatever facilities are available to it and are considered necessary in the future. In this connection statements in line with Recommendation 4 could be made.

future developments

The situation in respect to US military requirements in Libya is so fluid at the present time that it may be necessary to submit a supplement to this position paper at a later date containing any further guidance or information that may be available at that time.

  1. Prepared as a briefing paper for the U.S. Delegation to the sixth regular session of the General Assembly.