8. Telegram 51869 From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

51869. Foll sent action Tripoli info USCINCEUR CINCUSAFE from SecState 21 March 1973 repeated to you quote. Subject: LARG attack on US Plane.

1. Following is text of note Embassy should present forthwith to Ministry of Foreign Affairs protesting the attack by LARG aircraft on US military aircraft March 21: (complimentary opening and closing purposely ommitted).

2. Quote The Embassy of the United States of America wishes to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Libyan Arab Republic that on the morning of March 21, 1973, an unarmed United States military transport aircraft was fired upon by military aircraft belonging to the Libyan Arab Republic Air Force in international air space over the high seas.

The United States Government protests in the strongest possible terms this provocative and irresponsible act by units of the Libyan Arab Republic Air Force. Such an attack is in clear violation of international law and could have resulted in the loss of American lives and property.

The USG will hold the Government of the Libyan Arab Republic fully accountable for any future actions which may threaten United States aircraft transiting international air space and requests an immediate investigation of the circumstances surrounding this incident. Unquote.

3. Department is calling in Libyan Chargé to present parallel note here at bureau level.

4. Press guidance will be subject septel.

5. If Ministry should justify attack on grounds aircraft was in Libyan airspace as defined by HLR 22, you should reject these points [Page 12] drawing on State 210803, November 12, 1972 and Tripoli 1796, November 28, 1972. Rogers. Unquote.

  1. Summary: The U.S. Mission to the UN was sent a copy of telegram to Tripoli in which the Embassy was instructed to deliver a note to the Libyan Foreign Ministry protesting the March 21 attack of an unarmed U.S. military transport by the Libyan Air Force. The Department requested an immediate investigation into the incident.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Secret. Drafted by Warren Clark, Jr. in AF/N; cleared by Ernest Thomas Greene in IO/UNP; and approved by Clark. Sent for action to Tripoli, and repeated to USCINCEUR and CINCUSAFE.