202. Memorandum of a Conversation, British Embassy, Washington, July 19, 1958, 6 p.m.1
- Foreign Secretary Lloyd’s Visit
- United States
- Secretary Dulles
- Under Secretary Herter
- Frederick Reinhardt
- United Kingdom
- Foreign Secretary Lloyd
- Sir William Hayter, Foreign Office
- Lord Hood
- Mr. Jackling
- Mr. Laskey
- Mr. Logan
Soviet Proposal for an Immediate Summit Meeting—The Secretary read a draft press statement which he proposed to issue immediately commenting on Mr. Khrushchev’s invitation.2 He felt it important to contradict at once the Russian imputation of aggression to the United States and the United Kingdom over their actions in Lebanon and Jordan respectively. Mr. Lloyd said that while he had no comment on the text of the proposed statement, he would not wish to reach any decision yet on the substance of the reply to the Russian proposal for a meeting. The Secretary agreed, although his own feelings about a meeting were very negative.
Lebanon—The Secretary said that he had seen Mr. Malik, who had spoken by telephone to President Chamoun just previously. Mr. Malik implied that the American entry into Lebanon had still left the main problems of Communism and Nasserism unaffected. Mr. Malik had agreed that no attempt at a solution of these problems by force was likely to be profitable but had no useful suggestion to make. He did not suggest that the United States should leave Lebanon. He thought that the elections should be postponed for some little time although not beyond the last date in September required by the Constitution. Mr. Lloyd suggested that we should aim for an agreed international status for Lebanon by which the country would undertake not to join the United Arab Republic or any Western alignment. The Secretary made clear his intention that United States forces should remain in Lebanon until some satisfactory alternative to their presence had been found which would ensure the independence and security of that country. If this was to take the form of a United Nations force he could not envisage anything being built up which would take the place of the United States forces inside two or three months. If, however, President Chamoun should ask for the United States to leave a new situation would arise. He also considered that Mr. Lloyd’s suggestion for an international solution deserved very serious consideration.
Mr. Lloyd emphasized that the United Kingdom would back the United States “to the hilt” in remaining. In further discussion, Sir William Hayter and Lord Hood urged that it was essential to set the United Nations to work on a political solution and that this was more desirable than any attempt to form a United Nations force in Lebanon. Mr. Lloyd pointed to the difficulty in restoring order in the country when the Government in Beirut appeared to be the prisoner of the insurgents and the Lebanese Commander-in-Chief reluctant to take any firm action. The Secretary said that Mr. Murphy had reported from Beirut in very gloomy terms.3 The local political situation was dubious, President Chamoun had been prisoner for the last sixty-[Page 342]
seven days in his house and the presence of the United States forces had not effected any change in the internal situation. General Chehab asserted that divisions of opinion amongst his own personnel made action against the rebels impossible. Mr. Murphy felt therefore that a political solution was essential and that the election of a new President would ease the tension. The United States forces could then leave, claiming that their mission had been successful. Unless some solution could be rapidly devised such sobering effect as the military action had achieved would speedily be dissipated. Lord Hood suggested that this provided an argument for a meeting with the Russians in that Mr. Khrushchev might be brought to agree to tell Nasser to bring insurgent activity in Lebanon to an end. The Secretary agreed that a political solution was needed which might be found through United Nations resolution creating a separate and independent status for Lebanon, making it a ward of the United Nations and keeping it out of the United Arab Republic, but this would take longer than putting in a United Nations force.
[Here follows discussion of the Persian Gulf, Iran, and Sudan.]
Jordan—Mr. Lloyd referred to the request made by King Hussein for help in restoring the Arab Union by the movement of Jordanian forces into Iraq. He asked whether the Secretary believed that the position in Iraq was beyond redemption. The Secretary confirmed that this was his belief and said that he thought hints being given in Baghdad of Iraqi readiness for friendship with the West were part of a facade intended to deceive the West. Sir William Hayter said that he thought King Hussein’s proposal was made for the record and was not to be taken seriously. It was agreed that the same objections to any action by Jordan applied as in the case of the Turks and that King Hussein must be firmly discouraged from taking action by the same arguments.
Soviet Proposal for Summit Meeting—This was further discussed. The Secretary referred to the agreement which had just been reached between the American Red Cross and the East German Red Cross for the release of the American crew of a helicopter which had come down in East Germany a month ago. He considered this to be significant and that it was probably timed to coincide with Khrushchev’s proposal for a meeting. Mr. Lloyd suggested that there might be some merit in a meeting with the Russians, although not on their terms, and on the basis that there was no question of intervention to restore the position in Iraq. The suggestion that the meeting should be composed of the United States, United Kingdom, France, India and Russia was advantageous in that it was a movement away from the claim for parity. A meeting would give us an opportunity to tell the Russians directly where we stood and the risks they would face if they did not respect our position and our interests. The real danger of the situation[Page 343]
was that the Russians might misunderstand our intentions. If we could hold firm and prevent the Russians from intervention we might well in the end profit from dissension amongst the Arab states stemming from Arab selfishness and narrow-mindedness. The Secretary said that while not ruling out the possibility of attending a meeting he was doubtful of its value. He mentioned a recent discussion with the Yugoslav Chargé d’Affaires. He had answered Yugoslav criticism of the United States and British action by asking him whether it could be held wrong to assist small countries when they were threatened from outside. The Yugoslav Chargé d’Affaires had replied that as a result of their discussions with Nasser the Yugoslavs were convinced that a movement of Pan-Arabism was on the way and that to block it was to stand in the path of progress. The Secretary commented that that of course was Nasser’s own line. He was therefore doubtful whether Soviet Russia would be prepared to take any steps to stop Nasser and that if he were to be stopped it would have to be by the United States and the United Kingdom. Lord Hood suggested that if we could convince the Russians that we intended to stop the spread of Pan-Arabism in its present violent form the Russians might be prepared to join with us in stopping it for fear of a general war unless the situation were brought under control.
Israel—Mr. Lloyd reported that the Israelis were making difficulties about the over-flying of Israel necessary for the Jordan operation and asked whether the United States Government could be of help. Mr. Reinhardt reported that we were meeting similar difficulties with regard to overflights of United States aircraft which we were endeavoring to overcome.
[Here follows discussion of Italy’s view of the crisis and the impact of the crisis on the Baghdad Pact.]