641.74/11–950: Telegram

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

top secret

2718. Wright yesterday gave us following information re latest Anglo-Egyptian treaty developments:

He recalled meeting in New York on September 28 between Bevin and Egyptian FonMin, which resulted in no progress and in which Egyptian FonMin presented Egyptian proposals as follows:
Egypt prepared agree to base remaining in Egypt provided it is maintained by Egyptians.
In event of war, UK should re-enter and take over base.
Present treaty to be replaced by treaty of friendship (probably for 20 years).
Complete evacuation to take place within one year if possible.
Joint defense arrangements in war time, but not in peace time.
During course foregoing conversation, Egyptian FonMin said “There might perhaps be place for Egypt within extended Atlantic Pact or some similar arrangements which would provide solution for Anglo-Egyptian differences.” (Quotation from UK record of conversation).
There were no new developments after return of FonMin, PriMin and King until recently although Stevenson has had intermittent and inconclusive conversations on treaty problem and King has advised UK proceed slowly on theory that perhaps time will work in favor satisfactory agreement. Recently FonMin stated that speech from throne being prepared for delivery November 16 and requested statement UK position on points contained paragraph 1 above for inclusion in speech.
Bevin called in Amr November 7 and took following line:
He had been reflecting on his conversation in New York with Egyptian FonMin and, among other points, had been turning over in his mind FonMin’s remark re possibility Egyptian association in Atlantic Pact. He asked if Amr could obtain from his government elucidation of what FonMin had in mind. Amr replied he was familiar with FonMin’s remark and had already asked Cairo for clarification. He understood, as result his inquiries, that FonMin had in mind possibility Egypt might be admitted to full membership Atlantic Pact or, alternatively, that it might be associated with certain aspects of NATO planning in same way as Greece and Turkey. However, Amr did not think his government had any firm views on this question, and that it was casting about for possible solution to present deadlock, particularly solution along multilateral lines which would enable government to state publicly that old bilateral link with past was broken.
Bevin thanked Amr for explanation and said he would like think matter over. He then gave him written statement, which Amr said he would transmit his government with recommendation there should be no controversial statements on treaty problem in speech from Throne. Amr has also reported UK thinks it preferable that statement should not be published, but that if Egyptian Government nevertheless wishes do so, publication should be by pre-arrangement with UK. Abbreviated text statement follows: “On 14 October Egyptian Acting Minister Foreign Affairs asked HM’s Ambassador Cairo for statement of HMG’s views on possibility of Anglo-Egyptian defence agreement in light of exchanges of views which have taken place between two governments during last six or seven months. HMG are glad take this opportunity of saying it is their aim that Anglo-Egyptian relations should be based on complete equality and full sovereignty and inspired by mutual confidence. It is in this spirit they are now examining situation which has arisen from rejection by Egyptian Government of principle of joint defence preparations in peace-time which has been freely accepted by NATO, British Commonwealth and other peace-loving powers as only possible basis of adequate resistance to aggression. Defence of ME is issue which directly affects peace and safety of many other countries besides GB and Egypt, and HMG do not consider it can be settled solely on basis of national interests or aspirations of two parties directly concerned. HMG regret they are not yet in position to make any further pronouncement on matter.”

Comment: Wright indicated he was anxious inform us frankly of these developments, but equally anxious we should not interpret them as meaning that UK attention focused exclusively or even hopefully on Atlantic Treaty possibility. FonOff regards this as merely one in series of developments in fluid situation and is desirous leaving no stone unturned. UK completely aware, of course, that any association Egypt with Atlantic Pact would be decision for all members NATO and does not wish Department to gain mistaken impression UK running away with ball on this question. UK anxious keep Egyptians talking and therefore does not wish closed door to any possibility at present. Neither does development mean Gaza proposal dead; it is merely dormant for present.

On other hand, Wright seemed attracted to Atlantic Treaty idea and speculated somewhat hopefully on possibilities which it might offer for creation NATO bases (which concept Brownell, Special Assistant to Secretary of Air Force, had discussed informally with Wright during former’s recent visit here) which would also enable US share facilities at Abu Suweir.

Sent Department 2718, repeated info Cairo 62.