974.531/10–2650: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Douglas ) to the Secretary of State


2384. Embassy conveyed substance Deptel 2079, October 23 (repeated Cairo 358, Hague 483, Paris 2104, Oslo 303)1 to UK FonOff yesterday. Bendall2 Egyptian desk African Department said FonOff appreciated receipt Department’s views and would now doubtless also instruct British Ambassador Cairo to formally reject Egypts reply to original protest against Suez regulations and reiterate that UK considered regulations unreasonable and impracticable. FonOff also plans encourage similar action by government Saturday capitals listed above. Bendall said he would inform us as soon as FonOff instructions sent off.

He says that UK will, however, probably avoid use argument that regulations unreasonable because they are not required for defense of Egypt. He thinks UK will avoid direct or indirect reference of any sort to position under Suez Canal convention (in original protest UK reserved its position on legality of regulations). Instead UK will contend that regulations impracticable from point view shipping operations. If necessary UK will also point out regulations are in any event useless in denying oil supplies to Israel, which it can obtain from other [Page 317] sources. Bendall says FonOff would use term “unreasonable” mainly in sense that shipping master can not be expected know or verify end use his cargo.

FonOff will probably also make special point of protesting denial of Egypt port facilities to blacklisted ships, which as reported Embdes 1643, October 6,3 is matter particular grievance to British shipowners.

FonOff has asked us emphasize to Department importance UK attaches to endeavoring assure uniformity of procedure among ship operators using Suez, particularly in making no effort obtain certificate of actual end use. UK Government Department’s and British shipping industry have already agreed that such certificates will not be produced and that masters will as matter of practice comply with Egyptian requirement only to extent obtaining ordinary discharge document (known in UK as port entry certificate) on arrival UK ports. FonOff has already given guidance to this effect to UK customs authorities. Document produced is simply extra copy foregoing certificate signed by customs and verified by Egyptian consul.

FonOff inclined agree with Department’s information that Egyptians will probably not enforce regulations to letter. However, Bendall says that if Egypt should at any time reject type certificate now being presented, British ship agents would simply reply they had done best comply with Egyptian regulations and that it was impossible do more.

FonOff particularly anxious know what US ship owners likely do in foregoing respect and whether Department thinks it necessary advise them against providing more than ordinary arrival document. We have already given FonOff information in Deptel 1125, August 303 to effect that US customs authorities say that, if asked by ship masters, they would provide landing and clearance certificate for port of arrival but no further evidence of destination or consumption.

FonOff has promised reply to suggestion in last paragraph Deptel 2079 shortly. Bendall’s preliminary reaction was that this is not opportune time raise matter and in any event there is probably little that can be accomplished toward general settlement even by joint action until broader question Egyptian-Israeli peace solved.4

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Sent Department 2384, repeated information Cairo 49, The Hague 121, Paris 702, Oslo 68.

  1. Supra.
  2. D. V. Bendall, Officer for Egypt and the Sudan in the African Department of the British Foreign Office.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. On November 15 the British Foreign Office informed the Embassy in London that it “does not consider this opportune time raise general issue, either separately or through concerted approach. It strongly doubts such action would have desired effect on Egyptians, and cites complete failure efforts British Ambassador Cairo in several recent approaches to Egyptians to warn them about effect of SC airing of Suez problem and to urge relaxation restrictions. According Bendall, Egypt refusal this suggestion was in such strong terms as to make clearer than ever that economic blockade is cardinal policy which it has no intention abandoning.” (Telegram 2856 from London, November 16; 974.531/11–1650)

    Caffery, the Ambassador in Egypt, agreed with the British view that any concerted general approach would not be effective and “might well put the Egyptians backs up and further harden their position.” (Telegram 502 from Cairo, November 20; 974.534/11–2050)