684A.85/1–1850: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Holmes) to the Secretary of State


289. Geneva for Sayre and Palmer. Furlonge, head Eastern Department, during course conversation on Jordan-Israeli talks yesterday, mentioned that at time he first took over Eastern Department, (about December 13) British Ambassador Cairo1 was approached by Egyptian whom Foreign Office believes had palace connections, asking UK advice re desirability Egypt possibly undertaking direct talks with Jordan [Israel?], perhaps by joining current Israeli-Jordan conversations. Furlonge states Foreign Office felt that if Egypt desired undertake such talks, it would be better if Egyptian Government approached British Government more formally and that Foreign Office did not like sub rosa method of handling question. Foreign Office therefore told Campbell to break off conversations this subject and there have been no further developments since that time. Furlonge added Foreign Office had grave doubts re desirability Egypt joining Israeli-Jordan talks, since it felt Egypt and Jordan would, during course negotiations, slit each others throats.

Furlonge said Foreign Office has no recent information re current status Jordan-Israeli conversations other than general understanding they are deadlocked, particularly over corridor issue.

Furlonge then reverted matter reported Embtel 25, January 3, stating he personally (and he emphasized “personally”, since he has not consulted his superiors) had been giving great deal of thought as to whether time might not be approaching when it might be desirable [Page 698] intervene in negotiations in hope facilitating agreement. He stated Foreign Office has recently received message from Troutbeck BMEO Cairo2 in which latter expressed following views: (1) present US–UK policy toward NE appears to be one of promoting economic and social development in hope that this would bring about political stability. Troutbeck felt this was putting cart before horse and that there was little hope for economic and social progress unless political stability could first be brought to area.

(2) Biggest factor mitigating against political stability at present time is Palestine situation and it is therefore necessary that US and UK take more active role in promoting settlement that problem.

(3) In order bring about Palestine settlement, it might be necessary for US and UK to guarantee frontiers.

Furlonge commented last point extremely contentious. In effect, through treaty relations, UK already guaranteeing Egypt and Jordan boundaries with Israel (although, of course, not Arab Palestine at present time). Guarantee was one-sided and does not protect Israel against unlikely Egypt or Jordan aggression. He was certain, however, UK would not feel that it could extend general guarantee of frontiers in area. Leaving this aside, however, he personally wondered whether consideration should not be given to second Point which Troutbeck had raised. He wondered what our views would be.

With regard to Troutbeok’s first point, we recalled present economic and social approach through ESM and PRA had been resorted to with result failure make any progress toward settlement on political side. Admittedly inter-relationship economic and social development to political stability rather like hen and egg. However, we still hope for much from economic approach, but by no means neglecting political settlement. In this connection we recalled we have consistently favored direct talks. Re second point, our attitude has been one of non-intervention in direct talks, preferring leave both sides free to use their respective bargaining positions in effort reach agreement. We did suppose that in event it appeared desirable and likely of success, Department might not reconsider its present hands-off policy, but we had seen no indications that Department felt that it would be desirable intervene at present stage negotiations. Re third point, we felt certain that US Government could not associate itself with any guarantee of frontiers in area.

Furlonge stated that he did not think Foreign Office would alter its present policy re non-intervention at this time, although it would probably circularize its NE missions asking for their opinions re possible effectiveness UK and US intervention.

[Page 699]

Sent Department 289; repeated Cairo 6, Tel Aviv 6, Geneva 9; Department pass Amman 3.

  1. Sir Ronald Ian Campbell.
  2. Ambassador Sir John Monro Troutbeck, Head of the British Middle East Office, at Cairo.