774.00/11–950: Telegram

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


2717. During course conversation yesterday with Wright, we asked him if there were any new developments with respect present UK arms policy towards Egypt. Wright indicated policy now being relaxed and that Stevenson has now been authorized inform Egyptians:

That HMG has now been able proceed further in the review of its arms commitments which was necessitated by events in Korea and which had led UK to suspend shipment certain types of equipment.
That as result this progress, UK is (a) releasing to Egypt 16 Centurion tanks partly paid for; (b) considering sympathetically Egyptian request for 6 obsolete Halifax bombers, but is unable at present to say whether these items will be released; and (c) informing Egyptians of release of lend lease items mentioned Deptel 2176 October 261 (Embtel 2569 November 3).2
That apart from foregoing, however, other items desired by Egypt are pretty much in short supply at present and required for UK’s own defense effort, Commonwealth and NATO.

Comment: For Department’s and Cairo’s own strictly confidential information Wright told Embassy Office with great candour that decision re suspension arms shipments to Egypt taken at time he was on leave and that he has always had grave reservations as to wisdom of decision. He further indicated that Stevenson, who was in London at time decision taken, strongly favored suspension. Although he felt it hard gauge net effect of suspension in Egypt and thought it easy mistake surface for subconscious reactions, he nevertheless was inclined agree with Ambassador Caffery’s assessment that effect not salutary. This is first Foreign Office admission this fact which we have had (Embtel 2571 November 3)3 and Wright’s views undoubtedly account for decisions outlined above.

Sent Department 2717, Cairo 61.

  1. Not printed; it informed the Embassy in London that the Department of State had decided to approve the retransfer to Egypt from the United Kingdom of 100 75-mm. guns and 121 37-mm. guns, both lend-lease equipment that could be used for mounting on armored vehicles. (741.56/10–2650)
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed; it reported to the Department of State Ambassador Douglas’ view that the postponement of the British arms shipment had no identifiable beneficial effect in Egypt. (774.00/11–350)