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

2129. Pursuant Embtel 20632 and Deptel 1600,3 I saw Prime Minister Karami this morning.

I said United States might be able to help Lebanon in recovering from effects of almost half a year of civil war but we could not even estimate our ability to aid without a firm statistical basis as to financial [Page 616] situation in which Lebanese Government found itself. Upshot of a long interview was agreement that when each ministry had submitted its budget estimates for next calendar year, which are due to be presented Karami November 5, and a consolidated draft budget has been rounded out, which he thinks will be between November 10 and 15, USOM and Embassy economic experts will be called in to go over the books. Karami agreed to make a complete and honest revelation of income accounts, proposed disbursements and calculations under headings of reconstruction and development (first paragraph Deptel 1600). At that time we would jointly determine what deficit, if any, GOL found in its forward planning but there would be no commitment on part of US to meet this deficit. I could only promise sympathetic study and subsequent recommendation by Embassy and USOM to Washington.

Karami asked if I could let him know what global figure for aid US had in mind for Lebanon. I said I did not know it myself. US had many clients around the world and many demands upon foreign aid funds. All we could hope for was that if Lebanon could establish a clear basis of actual need US would regard its requirements sympathetically and do its best to help. I made it clear there would be no question of any lump sum annual grant to GOL.

I mentioned in passing 8 million pounds of counterpart and found, as I expected, that Prime Minister had never heard of this fund. I left further elaboration on this point to await joint study of Embassy–USOM experts with Lebanese budget technicians.

Prime Minister asked if there would be any strings attached to US aid, and mentioned in this connection Eisenhower Doctrine. I pointed out Eisenhower Doctrine was a unilateral statement of policy by the United States and offered personal suggestion it would be wise if neither side brought this issue up. What we were concerned with was a solid study in public finance and not in polemics on foreign policy. I likewise recalled that (Deptel 4107)4 Secretary had some months ago pointed out to Malik in a personal communication unilateral character of Eisenhower Doctrine.

I later went over main points of my conversation with Karami with my closest friend in government, Raymond Edde, to make sure this influential minister is conversant with my oral arrangements with Prime Minister. In particular, I cautioned Edde that I thought it would be unfortunate if Karami made any public statement about Lebanon [Page 617] and Eisenhower Doctrine. I thought this was a sleeping dog which could well be let lie.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 883A.10/10–2858. Confidential.
  2. In telegram 2063 from Beirut, October 23, McClintock reported that he had been approached by Karamé with a request to discuss the question of U.S. budgetary support for Lebanon. McClintock indicated that he agreed to conversations beginning October 27. He and the Embassy economic officers felt that such conversations should begin with a request for a detailed indication of Lebanon’s budgetary needs. Assuming a genuine indication of need, McClintock asked for authorization to release $2.5 million for October budgetary support, to match the amount which had been provided for September. (Ibid., 883A.10/10–2358; included in the microfiche supplement)
  3. The reference is in error. The correct reference is to telegram 1640 to Beirut, October 24, which responded to telegram 2063 from Beirut. In telegram 1640, the Department concurred in McClintock’s proposed approach to Karamé. In addition to a detailed indication of budgetary needs, the Department asked that Lebanese requirements be identified in the categories of current expenditures, reconstruction, and development. The Department added that it was reluctant to authorize the release of the second $2.5 million until after the country team and State/ICA had an opportunity to assess Lebanon’s overall requirements. (Department of State, Central Files, 883A.10/10–2358; included in the microfiche supplement)
  4. Telegram 4107 transmitted Dulles’ April 29 letter to Malik, Document 16.
  5. In telegram 2139 from Beirut, October 29, McClintock reported that he had covered the same ground with Chehab that he had gone over with Karame and Edde, and the President said that he was in complete accord with the proposed vetting of the Lebanese budget and development program. McClintock concluded from these conversations that Chehab and the Karame cabinet were making “a common sense and intelligent effort to try to improve Lebanon’s economy and social structure.” (Department of State, Central Files, 883A.10/10–2958; included in the microfiche supplement)