38. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Newsom) to the Acting Secretary of State (Richardson)1 2


  • U.S. Policy in the Wake of the Libyan Coup

I attach a working paper on our options in Libya (Tab B) and a brief discussion of possible future problems in the country (Tab C). The paper was prepared for the meeting of the African Inter-Departmental Group on September 2. While it has not been formally cleared with the members present, the paper met with general initial approval and has benefited from subsequent detailed suggestions from participating agencies, including ISA, JCS and CIA.

Events are now moving rapidly in Libya. Former centers of royalist influence in eastern Cyrenaica have fallen to the new regime, and there is little likelihood of any further resistance.

Accordingly, with regard to the options that appear open to us, I have two recommendations on which we would welcome your decision:

That we decide to maintain diplomatic relations with the new Libyan regime as soon as it becomes clear to us that it is, in fact, in unchallenged control of the country. The scenario I propose would consist of three steps:
We issue a statement (Tab A) responding affirmatively to the statement of the Revolutionary Command [Page 2] Council (RCC) that all nations maintaining diplomatic relations with Libya be considered to have recognized the new government;
we instruct our Charge in Tripoli, or alternatively our officer-in-charge in Benghazi, to present himself officially to the RCC, bearing a copy of our statement;

when we perceive the moment opportune we ask for confirmation of the agreement for our Ambassador.


That we coordinate the timing of the issuance of our statement with the British. They appear to be moving very rapidly towards recognition and could well announce it within the next few days.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 Libya. Secret. Sent for action. Drafted by Robert Allen, Jr. (AF/N); cleared by Root and John Stevenson (L). The tabs are attached but not printed. Richardson approved the recommendation and wrote: “These steps should be simultaneous, I think. ELR.” On a September 5 memorandum from Newsom to Richardson, conveying word of London’s intention to recognize the Libyan regime on September 6, Richardson approved a recommendation to follow suit. (Ibid.)
  2. Newsom summarized an African Inter-Departmental Group working paper on U.S. options in Libya. He recommended that Washington maintain diplomatic relations with the new regime and coordinate the timing of recognition with the British.