711.56373/1–2153: Telegram

The Minister in Libya (Villard) to the Department of State1

secret

567. Legation received first indication January 19 that Libyan Government has made known contents of United States base agreement to members Parliament. That evening Legation’s Arab Secretary was approached by several different groups of Libyan Deputies (all government supporters) who broached subject of agreement, and criticized articles giving United States Forces freedom of movement [Page 571]throughout Libya and freedom from jurisdiction Libyan courts. Deputies argued that former in effect is occupation of Libya by United States and both represent infringement Libyan sovereignty. When given explanation that United States interested only in temporary use of facilities in Libya and has no colonial ambitions, Deputies replied that while this may be true, Libyan sovereignty is nevertheless infringed, and if Libya permits United States to do as it pleases, Britain, who is known to be colonial minded, will certainly expect similar treatment. Deputies added that despite distrust of British, United Kingdom has been Libya’s friend longer than United States and has given her more assistance, therefore Libya could hardly grant United Kingdom less favorable consideration than United States.

From Deputies’ remarks Legation deduces that government may be attempting justify long delay in submission United States agreement to Parliament and win support for government by pointing out certain articles in agreement to which government objects. It also appears that Muntasser is now creating the opposition to United States agreement which sometime ago he said existed. While this putting ideas into heads of Deputies and taking them into his confidence may possibly strengthen Muntasser’s position in Parliament and insure passage of the type agreement he desires, it makes more difficult our task of negotiating agreement suitable to United States. And it may well make it more difficult for us to obtain better terms than those given to British.

Villard
  1. This telegram was repeated to London and Benghazi.