641.74/12–1150: Telegram

The Ambassador in Egypt (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

top secret

603. ReDeptcirtel 242 of December 7. Basic problem Anglo-Egyptian question is that Egpyt has thus far shown no willingness accept idea of peace-time occupation of canal area by foreign troops regardless whether new Anglo-Egyptian treaty, Mediterranean Pact, or any [Page 330] other type international agreement involved. Until this stumbling block removed, prospects for satisfactory solution problem are frankly nil in my opinion. Refusal FonMin Salah-el-din Bey make any specific proposals to Bevin (London telegram 3377 December 8)1 indicates he realizes no basis for agreement now exists.

Although I agree that British policy of simply “keeping Egyptians talking” may not be adequate stave off Egyptian denunciation of 1936 treaty indefinitely, I cannot see what better course British can follow until Egypt agrees permit foreign troops occupy canal area during peace-time. As present Wafdist Government not likely make such concession of principle, British can do no better than prepare to ride out the storm. In meantime, talk of multilateral agreements involving US and UN serves useful purpose of keeping conversations going.

Bare possibilities exist that (1) some type of multilateral arrangements might eventually tempt government to agree to peace-time occupation of canal area, or that (2) government might be persuaded adopt realistic interpretation of what meant peace-time conditions so that present type situation would be considered war-time emergency justifying “temporary” occupation by foreign troops. Negotiations could then for first time have some hope success.

Sent Department 603, repeated London 109.

  1. Not printed.