35. Telegram 1115 From the Embassy in Libya to the Department of State1

1115. Subject: Libyan-U.S. Relations. Ref: State 221657.

1. Believe Finance Minister Rajab must have been acting on RCC instructions, probably from PriMin Jallud, in calling on Under Secretary Sisco and in raising points he did. Rajab seems to have confidence of regime leaders, but doubt that this civilian technician minister would have acted on his own in this important matter outside his field. In fact his talking points seemed to be limited and generally similar to those raised by MFA Political Director Shaybani with Chargé in May (Tripoli 518).

2. Inclined to believe main reason for approach was LARG’s great desire to obtain Dept’s approval on export of their C–130’s. Also believe we should take at face value their expressed interest in general improvement of bilateral relations, and proceed on realistic basis stated [Page 105] by Under Secretary, para 3 reftel. We will have to learn if Libyans agree to this basis or whether they will continue to maintain that USG should first make gesture, i.e. release C–130’s. Rajab returned to Tripoli Oct 9, and we can assume Jallud will soon be briefed on talk with Under Secretary.

3. Problem any foreign representative has in policy talks with LARG is that usually only RCC members have authority to react, compromise or decide on points of importance. Further, while individual RCC members greet and talk with visiting dignitaries, they are normally not available to resident diplomats. Other officials, including civilian ministers, seem to operate within scope of brief instructions from RCC. Some improvement in this situation in foreign affairs field could come about soon, however. Reorganization of Foreign Ministry has been under consideration for months, and Ministry officials have told me new set up, possibly with RCC Major Abdul Muneim Al-Huni as FonMin, might be announced within coming week. If Al-Hune becomes a working FonMin, there would be better channel to RCC.

4. If LARG agrees to exchange of views on broad objectives of each side, perhaps we could begin by working together on identifying areas of discussion. Overriding issue separating our two govts is, of course, settlement of Middle East crisis. Aspect which concerns LARG most is satisfaction of Palestinian claims, and full exchange of views on this would seem to be central to idea of dialogue. Other major area of actual and potential differences is oil policy which leads into Libya’s deep interest in economic development and regime’s concerns and misconceptions about U.S. superpower domination.

5. Embassy could take up with MFA question of LARG’s agreement to proceed on basis we envisage and then discuss specifics of a loose agenda. Having reached that point, suggest AFN Director Wiley or Deputy Asst Secretary Saunders make quiet visit to Tripoli to begin substantive exchanges.

  1. Summary: Stein gave his assessment of Libyan Government attempts to improve diplomatic relations with the United States and suggested ways to facilitate that process.

    Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 177, Geopolitical Files, Libya 1973–76. Secret; Nodis.