72. Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Rountree) and Foreign Minister Malik, Washington, June 14, 1958, Noon1
- Situation in Lebanon
Foreign Minister Malik telephoned me at 12 noon today, June 14, and said that he had just been on the telephone with President Chamoun in Beirut. The President had told him that since 11:00 this morning, Beirut time, the rebels had broken loose in Beirut and there were then various engagements throughout the city going on after seven hours of fighting. One of the largest engagements was in the immediate vicinity of his house. (Mr. Malik said that he could hear the firing on the phone.)2 The President had instructed Malik to inform the United States Government that he was calling an urgent Cabinet meeting this evening. The United States should know that in view of the worsening situation, if things are not in hand later this evening or tomorrow morning, the Lebanese Cabinet would in all probability take a decision to ask for the immediate intervention of United States, British and French forces.
Malik said that he had asked the President how he should respond if the United States officials should say that this was an internal problem, since the fighting was between the Lebanese. Chamoun replied that we should be told that in Beirut alone there were about 500 Palestinians, together with a number of Egyptians and Syrians. He said that in the Shuf area there was a great number of Syrian conscripts who had completed their military service as part of regular Syrian forces.
Dr. Malik said that he would be in touch with the President over the next several hours and would keep us informed.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.00/6–1458. Secret. Drafted by Rountree.↩
- Intelligence sources reported that the rebel attack was launched from a building approximately 220 yards from the Presidential Palace. The army responded with artillery and machine gun fire and demolished the building. The Prime Minister’s home was also reported under attack. The firing in Beirut ceased at 4:15 p.m. local time. (TDCS DB–3/636, 267, June 14; ibid.,INR Files: Lot 59 D 600, E)↩