306. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Syria1

243. Recent messages indicate Soviet countries are continuing approach GOS officials re arms aid (Embtels 283,2 290,3 3024).

We do not wish compete with Soviet bloc in supply of arms but we do not wish impression to arise that US is not interested in helping its friends obtain requirements necessary for their defense.

We have already authorized informal discussion of arms sales agreement with GOS on basis Lebanese agreement (Deptel 1885). In order demonstrate our continued interest you may in your discretion query GOS whether it plans request negotiation of reimbursable military aid agreement. You may also state list equipment Embdes [Page 547] 956 being checked for price and availability for info of Syrians.

We assume list Embdes 95 is official statement of GOS requirements. We would like your estimate of whether conditions of agreement likely to cause rejection.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783.56/9–3055. Secret. Drafted by Wilkins and Boardman; cleared with Dixon and Frechtling; and approved by Hare who signed for Dulles.
  2. Telegram 283 from Damascus, September 29, contained a report that Soviet Minister Belyayev had offered Prime Minister Ghazzi an arrangement whereby the Soviet Union would provide arms to Syria on the basis of a 2- or 3-year credit to be offset by Soviet purchases of Syrian cotton and perhaps other export commodities. Ghazzi reportedly neither accepted nor rejected the offer. (Ibid., 461.8341/9–2955)
  3. Telegram 290 from Damascus, September 30, informed the Department that Ambassador Moose had asked Ghazzi directly concerning the report of a Soviet arms offer and Ghazzi had responded evasively. (Ibid., 783.56/9–3055)
  4. Telegram 302 from Damascus, October 3, reported that Shuqayr had confirmed to U.S. Army Attaché Colonel Molloy that a Soviet official had inquired about Syrian military needs. (Ibid., 783.56/10–355).
  5. Document 303. For text of the U.S.-Lebanese military sales agreement of 1953, see 5 UST (pt. 3) 2908.
  6. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 783.56/9–2755)