341. Memorandum on the Substance of Discussion at the Department of State-Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, Pentagon, Washington, April 15, 1960, 11:30 a.m.1

[Here follow a list of participants at the meeting and agenda items 1 and 2.]

3. Libyan Base Negotiations

Mr. Merchant referred to Mr. Dillon’s letter of March 26 to Secretary Douglas regarding the military importance of our Libyan base facilities.2 He stated that we are being pushed very hard by the Libyans [1 line of source text not declassified]. We could justify a commitment of cash payments to the Libyans of up to $15 million a year for five years under MSP legislation only if we have a definite statement from Defense that Wheelus is essential. We now have an economic aid program of about $20–25 million to Libya and, if we were out of Wheelus, we could drop it down to a couple of million. He continued that the base creates real difficulties: for example, there has been debate about it in the Ethiopian Parliament, and that we need a clear-cut statement from Defense as to the essentiality of the base. General Twining commented that this is a lot of money but that the Joint Chiefs feel that they will have a continuing requirement for Wheelus. It is vital to MATS, SAC and USCINCEUR. He added that the more footholds which the U.S. can hold on the African continent the better.

  1. Source: Department of State, State–JCS Meetings: Lot 70 D 328. Top Secret. The source text bears a typewritten notation that it is a Department of State draft not cleared with the Department of Defense.
  2. Supra.