396.1 LO/5–250: Telegram

The Ambassador at Large (Jessup) to the Secretary of State
secret

Secto 75.1 From Jessup. First meeting subcommittee on Near East took place yesterday afternoon with Wright, Furlonge, Evans, Sheringham for UK2 and Hare, Palmer, and Utter for US.3

Wright opened meeting by referring international situation as developed previously in conferences with Jessup. He then referred to [Page 142]US–UK conferences in 1947 and 1949)4 which had accomplished for NE area what current talks designed develop for all geographic areas. He assumed basic objectives set forth during those conferences still obtain and Hare confirmed they did.

[Here follows a discussion of specific problems relating to Iran and Turkey.]

3. Palestine. Wright observed there were several questions which might be discussed, including the supply of arms and a reassuring statement with reference security area. UK representatives in field expressed doubt regarding possibility any stable arrangement in area without UK-US guarantee of frontiers. There was also question of statics quo in area and whether any change would result instability.

Hare stated that we particularly wished discuss these subjects. With regard to arms question, we would like to assure ourselves both US and UK are proceeding from same premises in their consideration of this problem. This question not only important from point of view future peace and stability of area, but delicate from public relations angle. Particularly we wish to inquire whether our analysis to effect that trend in NE away from war and toward peace is in conformity British estimate and also to assure ourselves that British shipments of arms to NE, particularly to Egypt, were clearly directed to fostering security of area.

Wright replied UK view chances of resumption hostilities in NE as remote in foreseeable future. He discounted military capabilities any Arab state. While intentions present government of Israel not aggressive he thought influence of extremist elements, pressure generated by unrestricted immigration and economic unviability of Israel combined to make more likely possibility Israeli expansion than Arab aggression. Nevertheless, he saw no danger in foreseeable future. Regardless of potentialities, it was important recognize mutual fears and suspicions prevailed on both sides.

Hare agreed that question of fear was important factor and stated that we had two specific suggestions to make to assist allaying those fears: (a) address statement to arms question itself (which he outlined along lines contained D–2)5 and (b) general reassuring statement along lines D–3.6

Wright seemed generally interested in and receptive to these suggestions, but in discussion that followed other members of Foreign Office raised series of objections and doubts including following:

[Page 143]

(a) They doubt desirability of French participation, stating that French influence in area at low ebb and that their participation would have weakening effect. Wright inquired whether we were irrevocably decided on tripartite declaration and whether choice is between this and no declaration at all. Hare replied his instructions call for tripartite statement but for discussion question with French only after prior conversations with UK. If Foreign Office opposed French participation, we would like have their reasons. Wright observed if French not included it would be necessary delay issuance statement until after conference in deference French sensibilities.

Statement, as presently worded in our draft, might be interpreted as freezing status quo in NE. Some members of UK staff felt that some territorial change in NE inevitable and that use of force inherent in situation, mentioning specifically possible sucession difficulties in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Hare took strong exception this attitude arguing that its acceptance would constitute turning clock back in resolution of problems in Arab world. We stressed effort being made in UN and otherwise to develop concept peaceful and orderly solution of international difficulties. He mentioned as example US attitude on Iraqi-Syrian union. We don’t oppose change per se but feel it should be by orderly process.

Wright stated these questions not being raised because UK disagreed with principle of suggestions but merely to bring out some of the problems inherent in situation and which they thought we should consider before deciding issue of such statement. He said Foreign Office representatives would consider our suggestions which would be taken up at subsequent meetings.

Regarding British policy of withholding arms shipments to Israel, Wright said British chiefs-of-staff and Foreign Office sympathetic to idea of making appropriate sales of arms but it had been found inadvisable thus far to modify policy due primarily special British relation with certain Arab countries. Here again Wright seemed more open-minded on this subject than his colleagues who could see only adverse considerations in any relaxation of present policy. Wright said that British were particularly concerned re shipment of potent items such as jets and tanks which he said were what Israel really wanted. We asked whether relaxation which would indicate British impartiality would be helpful and observed would be extremely undesirable to be placed in position of British being regarded as purveyors to Arabs and US to Israel. Wright agreed wholeheartedly.

Some Foreign Office representatives also took attitude that any type of declaration or statement valueless since would not be credited by either Arabs or Israel. Hare took position that if this defeatist policy were accepted, there was no hope for stability in NE. It was true that [Page 144]words not backed by intentions would be valueless, but if UK and US really made up their minds and could take firm stand, none of NE states would be likely to flaunt it. Following is summary of foregoing:

1.
Both sides reaffirmed basic points on which agreed 1947 and 1949.
2.
Both sides agreed possibility counteract impression which might be created in NE and also other areas regarding exclusive character of NAT.
3.
UK would study our suggestions re recommendations D–2 and D–3 including question French participation.
4.
UK felt it would be desirable to study possibility some form NEA regional arrangement. We said we would be glad to have any ideas they may have regarding this suggestion.

Group will consider Saudi Arabia and PEA tomorrow morning and Egypt, Libya, and Eritrea afternoon.

Would appreciate receiving soonest information re proposed action Iran, since British desire discus as matter of urgency.

[Jessup]
  1. Series indicator for telegrams from the Secretary of State when absent from the Department; also used as a series indicator for telegrams from the United States Delegation at the May Foreign Ministers meeting in London, the September Foreign Ministers meeting in New York, and the NATO Council meetings.
  2. Michael Wright, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, British Foreign Office; Geoffrey W. Furlonge, Head, Eastern Department, British Foreign Office; T. E. Evans, Head, Middle East Secretariat, Eastern Department, British Foreign Office.
  3. Ely E. Palmer, United States Representative, United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine; John E. Utter, Second Secretary of the Embassy in France.
  4. See memorandum by Mr. Ranney, January 30, p. 123.
  5. Reference is presumably to the Report on Arms Shipments to the Arab States and Israel, April 20, p. 135.
  6. Reference is presumably to the Report on Near Eastern Security, April 28, p. 138.