342. Editorial Note
On May 5, during the discussion of significant world developments affecting U.S. security at the 443d National Security Council meeting, Acting Secretary of State Dillon reported “that U.S. and U.K. experts would meet in London on May 16 to prepare a joint analysis of the assistance needed by Jordan and the measures needed to provide such assistance. He wished to mention this meeting since the Council a few weeks ago had discussed the problem of burden-sharing with the U.K. in Africa and the Near East. Mr. Gray asked whether Libya was involved in the London meeting. Mr. Dillon said the British show [Page 753] a disinclination to talk about Libya. In fact, the British have been saying that they do not have a great deal of strategic interest in Libya. In any event, Mr. Dillon thought that combined U.S.–U.K. assistance to Libya would not be very useful since Libya was inclined to play the U.S. and U.K. against each other.” (Memorandum of discussion; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records) For the discussion of U.K. involvement in Libya, see Document 338.
At a May 31 meeting with President Eisenhower, Gordon Gray “reminded the President that in the Council meeting of May 5 in connection with Secretary Dillon’s mention of conversation with the British on burden-sharing in Jordan, I had inquired about any similar conversations respecting Libya in the light of the Libyan paper and the President’s directive that this matter be explored with the British. Mr. Dillon reported that the U.K. did not desire to talk about Libya and had indicated ‘not too much’ strategic interest in that country.
“I informed the President that I had then followed up with the State Department through the Planning Board member to find whether the conversations as directed by the President had been earnestly pursued. I reported to the President that I had been told that the British informed us that it would be useless to discuss Libya from the point of view of suggesting that they provide more aid. Commenting on their strategic interest in Libya, the British have said that that country is strategically useful to them and that they will continue to use it at the price they are now paying under an agreement expiring in 1963. However, if Libya requests a higher price upon expiration of the present agreement, the strategic usefulness of Libya to the U.K. will be critically reviewed.
“The President said he wondered whether we were really being tough enough in these matters and asked that I discuss this question with Doug Dillon to ascertain whether in his view we were taking a strong enough line. (Memorandum of meeting with the President, June 1; Eisenhower Library, Project “Clean Up” Records) The “Libyan paper” is NSC 6004/1, Document 339.
Gray telephoned Dillon at 6 p.m. the following evening:
“Gray said he was passing along on a personal basis a request from the President. When the Libyan paper had come up the President had said he wanted some consultations with the British about a possible increase of their interest. Last month when they talked about conversations with the British with respect to another country in the area he had asked whether similar conversations had taken place regarding Libya and Mr. Dillon had said the British had not indicated too much strategic interest. Gray had asked at the Planning Board meeting whether the conversations had taken place. He had wondered whether we had been as firm as we might be with the British on Libya. Mr. Dillon said we did not have any real position with the British in Libya. We had not made this thing on a joint basis. The British have [Page 754] paid for their rights and we have paid for our rights. If we get the British to pay more the Libyans would say we should pay more for Wheelus. The place to put the pressure on is Jordan where we have a different arrangement. There had been a successful one week meeting in London at which agreement had been reached. The British wanted to check with their Embassy in Amman. He thought we would probably meet in July and try to press them to reach a decision. The British were probably going to propose they do more for good relations. When they do that, that means that ours goes down automatically. Our bargaining was really with the Libyans.” (Notes of telephone conversation, June 1; Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199)