134. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1

992. Conveyed substance Department telegram 13922 to President Chamoun and Director General Foreign Office in absence Foreign Minister who now in Saudi Arabia.

President expressed appreciation stated Egypt was key to reopening consideration Jordan Valley plan. If Egypt convinced plan should be accepted Syria who represents principal opposition might be won over. Only Egypt can influence Syria. President believed Egypt did not want to be forced into war but if Syria attacked Israel over diversion issue Egypt would come to Syria’s assistance. Jordan, Saudi Arabia would probably follow. Lebanon would not attack anybody but would fight in self-defense.

President said Secretary’s February 183 and February 244 statements “good” and he recognized US endeavoring prevent hostilities. However, he had received report Israel had taken decision divert waters ignoring US advice. President also mentioned report Israelis had assembled one division troops on line Acre–Safad.

Director General Ammoun listened carefully took copious notes, asked what action US would take in case violations international agreements referred to occurred. I replied it impossible state in advance what actions might be taken in varying circumstances, quoted again statement US would view seriously any action by Israel or Arab States which might provoke hostilities. Likewise stated I could not predict future developments when Ammoun asked what would happen if Jordan Valley plan not accepted. I emphasized however, that US has withheld arms from Israel and has consistently advised Israel against unilateral action; Secretary’s recent statements showed US desire contribute peace and stability in area (Circular 5845). Acceptance Jordan Valley plan would be constructive act by [Page 245] Arab States which would contribute much to preservation peace in area and would contrast with previous negative Arab attitude toward various proposals.

Ammoun made no comment on GOL attitude Jordan Valley plan except to express doubt project had in fact been satisfactory technically to Arab States. He took note Ambassador Johnston’s willingness meet Arab Foreign Ministers if such meeting should appear productive.

Spoke to my British and French colleagues before call on Foreign Office. British Chargé will see Ammoun tomorrow; French instructions specify only their Ambassador Cairo to make representations. French Embassy is querying Paris.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85322/2–2756. Secret; Priority. Received at 6:05 a.m., February 28. Repeated priority to Cairo, Amman, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Ankara, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Jidda, and Damascus.
  2. Printed as telegram 2000, Document 120.
  3. On February 18, the Department announced the decision to suspend the arms embargo to the Near East. For text of the statement, see Department of State Bulletin, February 27, 1956, p. 325. See also footnote 5, Document 106.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 131.
  5. On February 24, the Department of State, in circular telegram 584, informed the Embassies in Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, Jidda, Amman, Cairo, Tel Aviv, London, and Paris that the U.S. Information Agency was transmitting through its channels the details of Dulles’ public appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 24. The Embassies could make available to the respective Foreign Offices a statement that assured them that the Secretary’s statements of February 18 and 24 on U.S. arms shipments to the Middle East represented a continuing desire on the part of the United States to contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the area and to the lessening of current tensions through progress toward a settlement. (Department of State, Central Files, 511.00/2–2456)
  6. On February 28, Heath, in telegram 995 from Beirut, informed the Department that the French Ambassador had received instructions to make similar representations to Chamoun and to the Lebanese Foreign Office. (Ibid., 684A.85322/2–2856)