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Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 156

No. 27
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Second Secretary of Embassy in Lebanon (Meyer)1

confidential

ST D–5/3

Subject:

  • Lebanon
[Page 76]

Participants:

  • United States
    • Honorable John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State
    • Honorable Harold Stassen, Director, Mutual Security Administration
    • Honorable Harold B. Minor, American Ambassador
    • Honorable Douglas MacArthur II, State Department Counselor
    • Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Meade, U.S. Army
  • Lebanon
    • Deputy Abdulla Bey Yafi, Ex-Prime Minister and Chairman, Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee
    • Deputy Ahmed el-Assad, President, Chamber of Deputies
    • Deputy Ghassan Tweini, Reporter, Foreign Affairs Committee
    • Deputy Habib Abi Chahla
    • Deputy Hamid Frangie
    • Deputy Nicola Salim
    • Deputy Charles Helou
    • Deputy Rashid Karami
    • Deputy Yussef Karam
1.
Remarks by Chairman Yafi. The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Abdulla Bey Yafi, opened the meeting with a prepared statement which he read in French. The general contents had already been reported in the press. He suggested that the United States pursue the following courses of action: a) remove from its mind any possibility of Arab-Israel peace, b) compel Israel to implement UN Resolutions, c) use its influence to stop immigration to Israel, d) give up endeavors for MEDO, e) help Egypt realize its national aspirations, f) support the cause of Arab nationalism generally, and g) provide technical and economic assistance without strings.
2.
Secretary’s Response. In response, the Secretary expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to meet with the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. Having had considerable recent experience in facing similar committees in Washington, he appreciated and welcomed the frankness which characterizes such committees in all countries. He declared that the very presence of his delegation in Lebanon was in itself evidence of America’s concern with conditions in the Arab world and its desire to do something to improve them. He noted that Congress is in session and this is an extremely busy time in Washington but despite all this, the trip is being made and this should be ample evidence of the new spirit toward the Near East on the part of the new Washington administration. He said he had come to Lebanon not only as a courtesy but to gain all the information he could on which to base United States foreign policy as it pertains to this part of the world. He added that [Page 77]he appreciated the committee Chairman’s frankness. Lebanon, he said, understands both the East and West to a unique degree and so what is said here has even greater importance.
3.
Soviet Tactics. The Secretary said he wished to take this occasion not merely to comment on mutual problems but to give as a background those major issues which concern the United States and make difficult the treatment of individual problems. He believed that the civilizations which are based on the world’s greatest religions and are now in a dominant position, are faced with a force, materialistic in creed and backed by enormous military power, not paralleled in the history of the world. There can be no doubt, he said, of the world-wide aggressive ambitions of Soviet power. One whose judgment he greatly valued in this respect, the Secretary said, is Dr. Charles Malik, who has a very profound understanding of Soviet doctrine. At a private dinner with the Secretary a week previously Dr. Malik had expressed his fear that the United States might soften its policies because of a few kind words recently emanating from the Soviet government. Dr. Malik admonished the Secretary that the Soviet moves were merely a change in tactics, not intentions, and the Secretary assured the Lebanese Ambassador that he had no need for worry as to America’s reactions. The danger, the Secretary said, is not only from attacks by the Soviets but even greater that the non-Communist powers will weaken each other as Stalin suggested in one of his last writings in October when he expressed the view that non-Communist nations would fight each other, thus making it unnecessary for the Soviets to fight them. According to the Secretary, the United States feels a two-fold responsibility: a) it is necessary to maintain a strong military establishment (it is costing the U.S. 40 billion dollars per year), and b) it is necessary to maintain unity among the non-Communist countries so that they do not fall into the Communist trap, and the United States is using all its influence in this direction.
4.
Relations with Allies. Noting that the Chairman’s statement indicated a loss of faith in the United States upholding of the cause of freedom, the Secretary said he did not think peace would be promoted by a serious breach between the United States and its allies, Britain and France. This did not mean, he said, that the United States does not use its influence in many ways, quietly and unostentatiously. For example, he said, the United States has been exerting itself to the utmost in the Egyptian problem looking toward an early and complete evacuation of British troops from the Suez area. It would be more dramatic, he said, to engage in an open crusade but under conditions today that luxury cannot be afforded.
5.
Israel. With regard to the question of Israel, the Secretary said that he and his associates were making this visit to seek policies [Page 78]which would be more fair and more just than those of the past, although it, of course, would not be appropriate for him to criticize on foreign soil a preceding government of the United States. The United States has definitely set itself, he said, against any aggressive tendencies by Israel. Already during the last six months, Israel immigration has come to a standstill. The Secretary said he hoped very much that as fear subsides through assurances against aggression there would develop a better relationship and a reduction in tension in this area. He added that the new administration in Washington is seeking approval from Congress for appropriations which would permit the United States to be more even-handed in its aid to the area than heretofore.
6.
Regional Defense. With regard to regional defense, the Secretary recognized that security in this area should be sought in ways whereby the people of the area would themselves be primarily responsible. He realized that no collective scheme could be imposed from without.
7.
Hope for Future. The Secretary stated that it was his hope that the steps which would be taken by the Washington administration, thoughts concerning which had been stated during his talk, would convince his hearers that a new era in Arab-American relations is opening. He said he wished to close with a plea for greater confidence in each other, faith in America’s purposes, and patience and restraint to permit the new administration’s policies to develop. He closed with an admonition that it was his understanding that this discussion was in “executive session” and its substance would not be reported outside the walls of the committee room.
  1. This conversation took place at the Chamber of Deputies.