Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Egypt and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan Affairs (Stabler)1


Subject: Korea, Palestine and Anglo-Egyptian Negotiations.

Participants: Mr. Mohamed Kamel Bey Abdul Rahim, Ambassador of Egypt
Mr. George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary of State Mr. Wells Stabler, ANE

Problem: To receive the views of the Ambassador on Anglo-Egyptian negotiations and other problems.

Action Required: To determine whether the U.S. could appropriately be of assistance in connection with the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations.

Action Assigned to: ANE


[Here follows discussion concerning Egypt’s attitude toward the Korean War and Palestine.]

3. Anglo-Egyptian Negotiations—Abdul Rahim Bey said that while the Palestine situation was a sore point with the Egyptians, it was only secondary to the much more important question of the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations. Egyptian public opinion was unanimously [Page 294] against Great Britain because of the latter’s determination to maintain troops in Egypt. This situation could not continue. The British Ambassador and Field Marshal Slim had discussed certain questions with Egyptian officials, but so far no concrete results were apparent.2 The Ambassador wondered whether the U.S. could not give some friendly advice to Great Britain to agree to evacuate its troops from Egypt. The Ambassador pointed out that such an evacuation could not take place under 1½ to 2 years and, therefore, the withdrawal would not be precipitate. Future arrangements would be based on a treaty with a Common Defense Board and the troops could withdraw to Cyrenaica, Cyprus or Jordan where they would be readily available in the event of war. The Common Defense Board might even be expanded to include other countries in the Near Eastern area and might also lead to American participation. Mr. McGhee immediately interposed that the U.S. would not be prepared to participate in such an arrangement. The Ambassador said that he understood this but hoped that the U.S. would give such a plan its blessing.

Abdul Rahim Bey pointed out that under the Sidky-Bevin formula of 19463 the British had agreed to withdraw their troops within 2 years and to replace the 1936 Treaty with a treaty along the lines of the British treaty with Turkey. This arrangement had fallen down because of the Sudan question.

The Ambassador emphasized that he was not requesting us to mediate between Egypt and the U.K. but rather that we should give friendly counsel to the British. He felt strongly that the only way in which we could preserve friendship with Egypt would be for the Anglo-Egyptian question to be arranged in a manner which would satisfy Egyptian aspirations.

Mr. McGhee pointed out that it did not seem wise to consider evacuating British troops from Egypt under present circumstances. Russian aggression in the Near Eastern area was entirely possible and it would be essential to our common strategic plans to have the British on the spot. He felt that Egypt could only lose by the instability in the Near Eastern area which would inevitably result from the military vacuum which would be created by the abandonment of British bases. Moreover, in the event of aggression it would not be so easy, [Page 295] from the military point of view, to bring back the troops to bases which had not been kept in operating order. Mr. Stabler pointed out that the Sidky-Bevin formula had been reached in 1946 at a time when the world situation looked better than it does now. Consequently the new situation had to be taken into consideration in connection with the demand that the British should evacuate its troops.

The Ambassador said he appreciated these points of view but felt that since evacuation could not possibly take place in less than 2 years, it would be possible to agree in principle to evacuation without having any serious effect on military planning. He again expressed the hope that the U.S. might put in a good word to the British.

Mr. McGhee said we very much hoped that Egypt and the U.K. would be able to reach a satisfactory and reasonable solution of their problem. We had considered the matter principally one for determination by the two parties and had not given consideration to the approach the Ambassador had in mind. However, as a result of what the Ambassador had said, we would give consideration to this question and see if there was anything we might appropriately do.

The Ambassador expressed his appreciation to Mr. McGhee and took his departure.

  1. Copies sent to London and Cairo.
  2. Field Marshal Sir William J. Slim, Chief of the British Imperial General Staff, visited Egypt on June 5–6 on his way to Australia. On his return trip to London, he again visited Cairo on July 12–13 and held conferences with the King and the Foreign Minister (despatch 1374 from Cairo, June 12, 974.5301/6–1250, and despatch 51 from Cairo, July 14, 774.00/7–1450). The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published their record of these conversations in 1951 in a “Green Paper” entitled Records of Conversations, Notes and Papers exchanged “between the Royal Egyptian Government and the United Kingdom Government (March 1950–November 1951), pp. 10–22 and 29–33.
  3. For documentation concerning this formula and the related negotiations of 1946, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vii, pp. 6978.