NEA Files: Lot 55–D36
Statement by the United States and the United Kingdom Groups
The maintenance of the British position in the Sudan.
- Both the American and British groups expressed the opinion (a) that the Sudan has great strategic importance in the Middle East area, particularly from the standpoint of communications and defense in depth and (b) that the maintenance of British military facilities in the Sudan is essential to the security of the Middle East and would be in the interest of the maintenance of world peace.
- The maintenance of the British position in the Sudan raises certain political complications resulting from the fact that the government of the Sudan is under an Anglo-Egyptian condominium. It is firm [Page 591] British policy to follow a program of encouraging the political evolution of the Sudanese toward self-government with the ultimate intent that the Sudanese people should decide their own political future. The Egyptian Government, on the other hand, claims that Egypt possesses sovereignty over the Sudan and denies that the Sudanese should have any right to declare themselves independent of Egypt. Constructive measures towards the development of self-government by the Sudanese would inevitably involve constitutional changes in the powers of the Governor-General as defined by the Condominium Agreement of 1899; and it was questionable whether the approval of Egypt as one of the co-domini was not requisite.
- Asked for its views whether the Governor-General of the Sudan should proceed with the implementation of the foregoing policy, the American group expressed sympathy with the general objectives as outlined, but observed that they were not in a position to judge the technical legal aspects of the problem. They expressed the hope that the British would endeavor to carry out their objectives in the framework of the Condominium Agreement, in view of the obvious disadvantages of following a course of action which the International Court should later find was in contravention of an Agreement to which Great Britain was a party.
- The British Government feels bound to proceed with its constitutional proposals for the Sudan in the belief that, if it fails to do so, Sudanese reaction might render impossible the maintenance of a satisfactory British position there.
- The American group was prepared to recommend that the American Government should support the maintenance of adequate British facilities in the Sudan. The American group also felt that the American Government should view with sympathy the British objective of constitutional progress in the Sudan. They indicated, however, that they were not in a position to express an opinion as to the manner in which this objective should be achieved. They were of the opinion that if the Egyptians should insist on the submission of any British policies or actions in the Sudan to the International Court, it would be difficult for the United States, in view of its general established policies, to oppose such submission. It was hoped that the British in carrying out their objectives in the Sudan would bear in mind that their policies and activities might eventually be subjected to the scrutiny of the International Court.
- Both the American and British groups expressed the opinion that this question merited further exploration and consultation.