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

37. Ambassador Malik advised Johnston July 19 on behalf GOL to postpone his arrival until after Syrian elections, thus confirming difficulties already called to attention of Department. (Damascus 39.2)Malik stated IBRD has given assurances that loan action on Litani not linked to Israel aspirations or Jordan Valley negotiations. He indicated that GOL likely take stronger position on negotiations when Lebanese mission to IBRD returns early August and reports.Johnston making effort postpone arrival until immediately after Syrian elections but urgently needs Embassy Damascus judgment whether August 18 election date is firm.3

Desire Embassy Cairo confirmation of present understanding Selim will participate negotiations. Comment also desired as to significant Riad attitude reported Damascus 44,4 particularly whether it may reflect Egyptian coolness toward project.5 In discussion [Page 307] Fawzi trust Embassy Cairo can clarify Egyptian preferences re locale meeting with Foreign Ministers. (Beirut’s 55 and 57.6)

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 120.1580/7–1455. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Troxel; cleared with Barnes; and approved by Burdett, who signed for Hoover. Also sent priority to Cairo, Amman, Beirut, and Tel Aviv.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 155.
  3. Earlier that day, the Department received a telegram from Ambassador Moose in Damascus indicating that Foreign Minister Azm had stated his willingness to “see Johnston but it was common knowledge GOS preoccupied domestic matters. Noting Cabinet must resign following Presidential election mid-August, Azm asserted Syrian Government would be unable to have any useful conversations with Johnston before end September.”Moose urged the Department to accept Azm’s “frank admission GOS inability to act.” (Telegram 64, July 20; Department of State, Central Files, 120.1580/ 7–2055)
  4. Not printed. (Ibid., 120.1580/7–1655)
  5. Byroade reported on July 23 that the previous day he had a long discussion with Fawzi about the Johnston mission.Fawzi “stated Egypt felt it had played its part as a direct participant in the negotiations on this plan. Now it was time for the states who would be parties to the agreement to take matters wholly into their own hands.”Fawzi was willing, however, to make Selim and Riad available to provide assistance to the participants in the negotiations, but they would not take part in the formal negotiations. In keeping with this decision,Fawzi also said that Cairo should not be the site of discussions and recommended Amman if the Lebanese objected to Beirut. (Telegram 126 from Cairo, July 23;Ibid., 120.1580/7–2355)
  6. Ambassador Heath commented in telegram 55, July 15, that the announcement of Johnston’s forthcoming visit was stirring opponents of the Jordan Valley development plan to initiate measures designed to secure Lebanon’s rejection of Johnston’s efforts. (Ibid., 120.1580/7–1555)

    In telegram 57 from Beirut, July 16,Heath informed the Department that he had received a telephone call from Frangie, who indicated that the Cabinet was of the opinion that Johnston’s final meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the states interested in the Jordan Valley projects should be held in Cairo rather than in Beirut. (Ibid., 120.1580/7–1655)