883.24/163: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt ( Kirk ) to the Secretary of State

647. Legation was approached latter part February British Embassy here which stated that it intended to send a note to Egyptian Foreign Office stating that arrangements had been made some time ago between British and Egyptian authorities concerned whereby orders for “warlike and other stores” from abroad should be placed by Egyptian Ministry of National Defense through British Military Mission of Egyptian Army, but that attempts had recently been made to place orders with various British and United States organizations without intervention of British military authorities. Embassy draft note expressed hope that Egyptian Government would in future arrange that all National Defense Ministry orders should be passed to British military authorities through British Military Mission. If supplies were required from United States British military authorities could “arrange for necessary orders to be placed with American military authorities.”

[Page 69]

Embassy expressed hope this Legation would send similar note to Egyptians, but there then appeared to be no reason for the Legation to approach the Egyptian Foreign Office in the sense of the British Embassy note as the Legation was not a party to the above mentioned arrangements alleged to have been made between the British and Egyptian authorities on which the British representations were to have been based. Embassy subsequently referred to existence agreement between London and Washington7 whereby combined Munitions Assignments Board regards requests for supplies of military goods to countries in this area as British responsibility. Legation replied that it would have to consult competent American authorities, in this case General Crawford, Commanding Services of Supplies, United States Army Forces Middle East who is also military Lend-Lease representative here.

General Crawford then stated he would consult War Department before expressing opinion and now informs Legation he has received reply from War Department according to which Legation will be advised by State Department regarding decision reached.

Legation has in meantime been approached informally by high official Ministry National Defense who asked if Legation or United States Headquarters here are prepared assist Egyptians to obtain from United States such American supplies as British are unable to obtain. According to this official, Egyptian authorities have no objection placing orders through British Military Mission, but have been informed by the latter that British are not in position obtain more than a fraction of Ministry’s needs in American supplies which consist at present chiefly of spare parts for Egyptian Army trucks.

Present position here is that Embassy has not yet sent note to Foreign Office, but states it proposes to do so independently, realizing that our position in this manner differs in certain respects from theirs. Egyptians, however, will undoubtedly continue to approach Legation regarding American attitude in this manner and I shall appreciate Department’s views. While realizing necessity of establishing definite channels for requests for military equipment I feel that as matter of general policy it would be undesirable for Egyptian authorities to be denied access to Legation in this or any other matter unless adequate reasons can be given therefor.

  1. Lend-Lease Agreement signed at Washington, February 23, 1942, Executive Agreement Series No. 241, or 56 Stat. (pt. 2) 1433.