8. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon1
3375. Embtel 2832.2 Your helpful analysis Lebanese presidential situation most welcome at time when problem is subject Department’s active interest. We share your concern over repercussions should Chamoun decide run again.
- You should at early date discuss with Chamoun his presidential intentions on an exploratory basis. We consider it most important that in this initial discussion we give Chamoun no reason to assume we will support him if he decides for re-election. We also do not want him to receive impression we have definitely reached conclusion he should not present himself. We hope your approach can in friendly and frank manner make clear our continuing deep interest in welfare and security of Lebanon and convey serious misgivings we have re possible consequences of effort to amend constitution. You should ask for his appraisal effects such a move would have. While stressing our continuing interest in Chamoun’s personal welfare and our appreciation his courageous leadership over last six years, you should frankly seek his views re possible suitable candidates other than himself and inquire re possibilities assuring continuance his policies through his support of someone else in the Presidency. FYI. Our present estimate is that effort by Chamoun to assure his re-election could lead to internal conflict of [Page 14]unpredictable dimensions. We believe suitable alternate candidate can be found and that such candidate with support of Chamoun and West should have no difficulty in being elected. End FYI.
- We would prefer that you give no further indication our thinking this subject to chiefs friendly diplomatic missions including UK and France until we have had opportunity assess Chamoun’s reaction to approach outlined above. We consider it might be preferable conduct any discussions with UK and France initially either here or in London and Paris.
- In public our traditional policy of non-intervention Lebanese internal affairs should be firmly maintained.
- Separate message follows re Malik.