711.56373/12–152: Telegram

The Minister in Libya (Villard) to the Department of State


406. 1. In absence of PriMin, I have had discussion with Defense Min Jerbi regarding Libyan counterproposals to our base agreement.1 Jerbi stated that new Libyan approach shld not materially affect contents of agmt as negotiated last year. It did, however, tighten up certain provisions, notably those referring to questions of sovereignty and jurisdiction, and it represented fundamental and basic principles which Libyan Govt is now able to accept.

2. Reason for change in Libyan attitude was realization that UK and France in their draft mil agmts were demanding practically the same terms that Libya had freely and willingly granted to US and this wld never be approved by Libyan people. French, in particular, cld under no circumstances expect to receive the same privileges, exemptions, and general treatment in mil matters accorded to Americans in [Page 563]US base agmt, and there wld likewise be public opposition to granting UK same terms given to US.

3. Counterproposals apply equally to all three foreign orders and assurances cld be given that if accepted by US, the revised agmt wld be approved by Parliament. Of course, in case of US, additional econ aid wld be expected. Jerbi said exact figure in this connection was not his business, but he mentioned sums ranging up to $5,000,000.

4. Jerbi said he hoped he cld be of some use in present situation, but he felt that effort was being made to get him out of the country in near future. I told him of Dept’s thinking that Libyan interests might be better served if he did not come immed to US as Minister, since there wld be little for him to do and his experience might be more valuable. Jerbi himself realized there was not much to keep him busy in proposed role as Min to US, or, as recently suggested, Min to Turkey, but he believed forces were actively at work to eliminate him from Libyan scene (I assume because of his well known pro-American feelings). He asked that I speak to the King personally and to no one else about this matter.

5. I have discussed counterproposals briefly with Brit and French Mins and expect to do so at greater length later this week. First reaction of Kirkbride is that new proposals constitute “basis for negots”, while Dumarcay thinks they are more or less acceptable as is.

6. French Min told me that document which had been submitted to Libyan Govt last summer was treaty of alliance virtually the same as UK draft and that military annex recently submitted also followed closely UK model. As in case of Brit, it was intention of France to negotiate financial agmt as well. It thus seems clear that UK and France have collaborated in their drafts all along and that submission by French of mil annex with its extensive implications, in face of present bitterly anti-French feeling in this Arab country, probably was immed cause for change in Libyan attitude.

  1. Tripoli telegram 405, Dec. 1, transmitted a preliminary and rough translation of a set of counterproposals to the December 1951 base agreement, received from the Libyan Government on Nov. 27. Despatch 95 from Tripoli, Dec. 8, transmitted a revised translation. The despatch commented that its translation had been compared with the translation of an identical document received by the British and, although the translations differed slightly in some instances, the Arabic text and meaning of the individual paragraphs were the same. Documentation is in Department of State file 711.56373.