34. Telegram 221657 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Libya1

221657. Subject: Libyan Minister of Treasury Calls on Under Secretary Sisco.

1. Libyan Treasury Minister Muhammad Az-Zaruq Rajab took the initiative to call on Under Secretary Sisco on October 4. Rajab, in Washington as the head of the Libyan delegation to the IBRD/IMF conference, asked for a high-level meeting to discuss U.S.-Libyan relations. He said he was taking this initiative in order to begin a process which would quote bridge the gap unquote between our two countries. He stressed that the LARG not only desired better relations with the USG but was also a bulwark against communism in the Arab world. He said that his government was puzzled by quote anti-Libyan unquote actions taken by the USG. As examples he mentioned the USG action in quote pulling out unquote its Ambassador and the withholding of export permits for the eight C–130’s.

2. Mr. Sisco welcomed the Minister’s initiative and his stated desire to improve relations. Mr. Sisco said that we have a continuing interest in finding ways to improve our bilateral relations. He made it clear that we would like to consider the Minister’s visit as a possible first step toward resumption of the dialogue between Libya and the United States. It was, nevertheless, not clear that the LARG really wanted a general improvement in relations with the U.S. Mr. Sisco stated that on the basis of past actions of the LARG, it was too soon to talk about specific issues. He stressed that the USG refuses to be kicked around and mere anti-communism is not a sufficient basis to establish a dialogue. Any framework for a productive dialogue would have to be based on mutual understanding and respect. Given the deterioration in our relations, starting with the Libyan expulsion of the United States from Wheelus Air Base, we needed to be convinced that the Libyans actually want to have good relations.

3. Mr. Sisco told the Minister that he would report his conversation to the Secretary and that he assumed the Minister would report to his government. Mr. Sisco suggested that both sides could now consider [Page 104] how to continue this dialogue. The Minister sought a concrete gesture to show our quote good faith unquote. Mr. Sisco said there could be no preconditions and it was not appropriate to think in terms of gestures at this stage. He said that a further exchange of views would be necessary, one which would focus on the important requirement of each side trying to understand the broad objectives and thinking of the other side. Once such an understanding existed, it would be possible to address more specific questions.

4. It is not clear to what extent Rajab represented views of RCC. Request that Embassy provide any available information on Rajab’s standing within LARG and his relationship to RCC. You should not make any approach or discuss above with any Libyan or other foreign official without further instructions. We are considering a possible next step on our part and what it would be. Your views and suggestions would be most welcome.

  1. Summary: The Department reported on a meeting between Sisco and Libyan Treasury Minister Rajab. Kissinger requested the Embassy’s views on Rajab’s standing with Libya’s Revolutionary Command Counsel, and suggestions on improving U.S.-Libyan relations.

    Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 177, Geopolitical Files, Libya 1973–76. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Drafted by David L. Mack in NEA/AFN; cleared by Atherton, Moffat, and Wiley; and approved by Sisco.