42. Telegram 1134 From the Embassy Office in Benghazi to the Department of State and the Embassy in Libya1 2
Benghazi, October 30, 1969, 1750Z
- LARG Note re Termination Wheelus Agreement.
- State 183347
- Ambassador Palmer met with LARG FornMin Buwaysiir in Benghazi October 30. After about ninety minutes discussion various matters raised by Ambassador and being reported septels, FornMin introduced base question stating that he greatly valued his relations with Ambassador and appreciated his thoughtfulness and wisdom. FornMin said he hoped they would always work together successfully. One thing which now troubled Libyan-American relations was presence of our military base. Military bases do not help create good relations between countries and US had many good friends on whose territories it did not have such installations. In case of Libya, it was particularly necessary, following revolution, that the American base be eliminated, since the base had already caused problems between Libya and the US such as two exfiltration cases.
- FornMin then presented note (informal translation sent Benghazi 1133) to Ambassador, calling on “USG and American people” to “enter into urgent and friendly discussions with LARG aimed at urgent evacuation from all Libyan territories. Minister added that he had presented similar note to British Ambassador yesterday and said he hoped that the Ambassador would appreciate its importance and urgency. Ambassador reserved position re substance of note, including foregoing points, but agreed transmit it promptly to Washington for study. He added that we would certainly give note our earliest attention but he was sure Minister would understand that this was a complicated and very important subject. He urged Minister to see that press treatment of this subject in Libya was kept in low key and did not add to inherent difficulties of problem. He reminded Minister that he had told Min at the beginning of their meeting that he was returning to Washington for consultations and that this note would obviously be closely studied at that time. Minister said that he understood matter was important but he failed see how it was so complicated. Re publicity, Minister said he did not intend release text of note but to handle in same limited terms as with British note yesterday.
- Ambassador then sought clarify termination provisions of agreement. Minister clearly understood correct positon, making clear at same time that what LARG seeks is earlier agreed voluntary termination.
- Ambassador Palmer approved in draft.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 15 LIBYA–US. Secret; Immediate. It was repeated Priority to London and to USCINCEUR, CO 16th AF TORREJON, CINCUSAFE, and CO 7272 FTW Wheelus AB. A translation of the note was sent to the Department in telegram 1133 from Benghazi, October 30. (Ibid.) Due to the distribution of Libyan ministries in several cities, the U.S. Embassy also had offices in Benghazi and Baida. According to an October 10 memorandum from Acting Secretary of State Richardson to Nixon, the exfiltration cases were incidents in which U.S. employees at the Wheelus base smuggled two Libyans out of the country. (Ibid., POL LIBYA–US)↩
- Foreign Minister Saalih Mas’uud Buwaysiir presented Ambassador Joseph Palmer with a note calling for discussions to terminate the American presence at Wheelus.↩