Editorial Note

Egyptian Prime Minister Nokrashy, in a statement before the Chamber of Deputies on January 7, announced that his Government was determined to pursue a policy for the immediate and unconditional evacuation of British troops from Egypt. He also called for the unity of the Nile Valley, denouncing the maintenance of the present regime in the Sudan (airgram 19, January 12, from Cairo, 741.83/1–1248).

British Ambassador Sir Ronald Ian Campbell, after discussions at London, returned to Cairo late in January. His instructions were to suggest informal talks between British and Egyptian military officials, to be held in Great Britain and in Egypt. The British expectation was “to thus create informal joint defence board which can begin to function before or without any formal establishment. General strategy is to shift Anglo-Egyptian conversations to technical and strategic problems as opposed to political problems leaving latter to cool off.” (Telegram 275, January 23, 7 p. m., from London, 741.83/1–2348)

London advised, on March 18, that “To some degree British idea separating military problems from conversations regarding Sudan was successful for a time. British Embassy Cairo conducted some fairly hopeful conversations on military topics … with King, Nokrashy and other important Egyptians and point was reached when Egyptian Government was about to propose visit to UK by Haider Pasha, Minister of Defence. However, when recent storm blew up over draft constitutional ordinance for Sudan, Nokrashy, ‘always rigid and unforthcoming’ saw to it that military talks were put in abeyance.” (Telegram 1127, 741.83/3–1848)

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office on October 19 stated that Egyptian Foreign Minister Khashaba called on Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Bevin at Paris during the meeting of the United Nations in that city. The Egyptian expounded the view that the British could safely withdraw their forces from Egypt and rely on bases in the Sudan, Transjordan and Cyrenaica. Mr. Bevin stated that it was essential for the United Kingdom to have a headquarters [Page 86]and a base in Egypt during peacetime so that they would be ready for use when war came. He regarded the defense of Egypt as a joint Anglo-Egyptian problem and queried whether the two countries might arrange technical defense talks on such matters as increased training of Egyptians in the United Kingdom, the supplying of arms by the United Kingdom and the conversion of British headquarters in Egypt into Anglo-Egyptian headquarters. If such talks were successful, the Treaty of 1936 might become redundant. Egyptian Ambassador Amr returned to Cairo thereafter for consultations (telegram 4556, October 20, 1 p. m., from London, 741.83/10–2048).

London, on November 27, advised that Ambassador Amr had reported success “in selling” Mr. Bevin’s idea of defense cooperation to the King (telegram 5023, 741.83/11–2748). Then, on December 14, the Foreign Office spokesman informed London that the Ambassador had returned to London but had not attempted to see Mr. Bevin. The spokesman deduced that a “hitch” had developed (airgram 2336, December 15, from London, 741.83/12–1548). This development seemed to be confirmed when Cairo reported, on December 14, that Prime Minister Nokrashy had made a “strong statement to the Senate that his Government’s attitude on the Sudan remained unchanged, and after reaffirming that his Government would not start negotiations with Great Britain unless such negotiations would assure the achievement of Egypt’s demands, received a vote of confidence of 33 to 20”. (Airgram 991, 848Z.00/12–1448)

The Department of State, during 1948, received a large volume of reporting from London and Cairo on various aspects of the revision of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty and of the future status of the Sudan but apparently refrained from any expression of opinion on these issues.

Egypt and the Soviet Union signed a barter agreement on March 3, calling for the exchange of 38,000 metric tons of long staple cotton for 216,000 tons of wheat and 19,000 tons of corn cereals. A protocol, signed simultaneously with the agreement, granted both parties most-favored-nation treatment in trade relations with the exceptions of countries adjacent to the Soviet Union and of the Arab countries (telegram 228, March 4, from Cairo). The Department’s reply of March 22 stated in part that “the question of trade preferences has received considerable attention at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment now in session at Habana. . . . While the provisions relating to preferences in the proposed Charter for an International Trade Organization have been modified to some extent, they would not countenance such blanket exceptions to most-favored-nation treatment as are apparently permitted in the protocol under reference.” (airgram 83). These and related papers are filed under, 661.8331.

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