Between March 7–11 a conference of United States diplomatic and consular officials was held in Cairo. Fifty-one Foreign Service officers from fourteen posts in the Near East attended as well as officials of the Economic Cooperation Administration and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Labor. The purpose of the conference was to bring together at the working level the officials who dealt with all aspects of Near Eastern affairs. It was hoped that these officials would derive benefits similar to those which were gained as a result of the Chiefs of Mission Conference in Istanbul in November 1949. Both meetings were designed to facilitate an exchange of ideas relating to United States policy in the Near East.
Although Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs, George C. McGhee, was originally scheduled to serve as chairman of the conference, his extended tour of seven African countries in February and March prevented his presence at Cairo. For a description of his trip to Africa, see the editorial note, page 1512. In his place, Jefferson Caffery, Ambassador in Egypt, served as chairman of the meetings; he was the only Chief of Mission to attend. The highest ranking officials from the Department of State were Burton Y. Berry, Director of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs, and William M. Rountree, Deputy Director of the Office of Greek, Turkish and Iranian Affairs.
For the statement released by the Department of State on February 6 concerning the plans for the conference, see the Department of State Bulletin, February 20, 1950, page 301.