69. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1
4629. I saw Chamoun at 6 p.m. today and made representation authorized Deptel 4710.2 After reading verbatim text very carefully President said it would be a most dangerous principle for Lebanon to admit that Nasser should set out terms for settlement of its internal difficulties. He said, “My successor may not have as strong nerves as I—and who knows what future demands Nasser may make of him?”
President then described his complete distrust of Nasser saying that on numerous occasions Egyptian had made fair weather statements of respect for Lebanon’s integrity and independence but each time his deeds had belied his words.
I pointed out Department’s approach was in terms of third paragraph reference telegram and we had not indicated to Nasser we had even intended discuss his three points with Chamoun. In consequence I would at once inform my government that in Chamoun’s estimate Nasser’s suggested approach was not acceptable.
Re fourth paragraph reftel Chamoun in great earnestness said he wanted me to know Lebanon would not seek recourse to friendly intervention unless in “a case of extremity.” So far as he could judge military situation Lebanon had not yet reached this point. However, Chamoun was disturbed at loss of Chouf to Jumblat’s partisans and said he had appointment with Chehab later this evening to discuss military plans for averting interdiction by rebels of transit to Bekaa via Beirut–Damascus highway. Chamoun added that he knew his Druzes and now Jumblat’s forces had won a victory many tribesmen would pick up their guns and join Jumblat. He said, “They could attack Beirut in a force of between 4 and 5000 men in a few days”.
President then reverted to Nasser’s three points. It was clear he had no taste for Chehab as Prime Minister because opposition, as we have reported, is endeavoring to bring in Chehab as stalking horse and intermediary figure in preparation for some other chief of state or government who will be more pro-UAR. However, on amnesty President again repeated his previous assurances to me that he would be willing to leave door open for opposition leaders to escape. He said he had for past few days had under consideration a public announcement by himself providing for amnesty for any rebel who was not involved in direct personal crime on condition such persons laid down their [Page 111] arms. However, President said he could not very easily make such a declaration on eve of such setbacks as Jumblat’s victory in the Chouf. On contrary such a statement could only successfully be made after Lebanese armed forces had themselves gained a fairly significant victory over insurgents.3
Summary of interview: Chamoun is not willing to treat with Nasser.4
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.00/6–1158. Top Secret; Niact. Repeated to Cairo.↩
- Document 67.↩
- In telegram 3291 from Cairo, June 12, Hare noted that Chamoun’s reaction to the three-point proposal was exactly as foreseen by Nasser. He questioned whether Chamoun’s rejection was based on the substance of the proposal or on the fact that it was authored by Nasser. He concluded that, whatever the basis for Chamoun’s attitude, “we do have right to give constructive advice in order prevent development of situation where we will find ourselves obligated intervene as result, not so much of UAR interference, as of lack of political wisdom of Chamoun.” (Department of State, Central Files 783A.00/6–1258) McClintock commented from Beirut, in telegram 4685, June 13, that Chamoun’s rejection was based more on authorship than substance. He felt that Chamoun might be willing to consider a solution similar to that proposed by Nasser, but was “infuriated” at the thought that Nasser should give advice on the creation of a new Lebanese Government. (Ibid., 783A.00/6–1358) Both are included in the microfiche supplement.↩
- Dulles called Eisenhower on the morning of June 12 and read from this cable from Beirut, concluding that “Chamoun said no.” He added that he was not sure if favorable action in the Security Council would calm the situation. Eisenhower said “we should make sure Chamoun has what he needs and can use.” Dulles replied that he felt Chamoun was satisfied. (Memorandum of telephone conversation; Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, White House Telephone Conversations; included in the microfiche supplement)↩