McGhee Files: Lot 53 D 468: “Egypt”

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge, Egypt and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan Affairs ( Stabler )

top secret
Participants: Mr. D. A. Greenhill, First Secretary, British Embassy
NE—Mr. Lewis Jones
NE—Mr. Stabler


Mr. Greenhill called at his request and said that he had been instructed by the Foreign Office to communicate to the Department [Page 364] recent developments in connection with the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations. He said that the Foreign Office had particularly requested that we be apprised of its gratitude for the support which had been given to the UK by the Department and Ambassador Caffery. The Foreign Office believes that this support has been invaluable.

Mr. Greenhill then gave the following details on the British defense proposals:

All Army personnel, except anti-aircraft gunners, to be withdrawn from Egypt within the next five years. Headquarters, Middle East Land Forces, and the majority of combat troops to be evacuated from Egypt by the end of three years.
The Middle East base would remain under UK ownership with a long-term lease for the land. Control of the base would be through an Anglo-Egyptian Control Board jointly responsible to the British and Egyptian Governments. Approximately 3,500 British civilian technicians would remain on the base.
A joint Anglo-Egyptian air defense organization would be established which would remain active after 1956.
Egypt would guarantee the re-entry of British and allied forces in the event of war or the imminence of war.
Egyptian armed forces would be equipped immediately on a training scale. Thereafter they would be treated on equal priority with nations with which the UK has working defense arrangements.

The British Ambassador in Cairo was instructed to point out to the Egyptian Government that the above were minimum requirements for defense purposes and that it is inconceivable in the present threat of world war and the state of opinion in the UK that the British Government should purchase Egyptian cooperation by acceding to Egyptian demands for immediate evacuation. With respect to the Sudan, the British Government considers this question a separate issue and the British Ambassador had the authority to say that the UK was willing in due course to discuss this issue on the basis that the aim of the British Government is that the Sudanese should obtain self-Government at the earliest possible opportunity. The Ambassador was to emphasize that no arrangement could be reached which would interfere with this aim.

Finally, the British Ambassador was to raise with the Egyptian Government the question of the Suez Canal restrictions. He was instructed to make clear that failure by Egypt to remove these restrictions would make it most difficult for the British Government to obtain public support for a revision of the 1936 Treaty.

Mr. Greenhill added that the Foreign Office was concerned by the impression it had received from Mr. McGhee in London1 that the United States valued Egyptian cooperation more highly than it did [Page 365] the retention of strategic facilities for the deployment of allied forces in the defense of the Near Eastern area. Mr. Stabler informed Mr. Greenhill that such an impression was not correct, but that we were considerably concerned by the lack of progress in these negotiations. Mr. Jones informed Mr. Greenhill that the Department would probably wish to make certain comments regarding the information which he had communicated on the defense proposals.

  1. See memorandum of informal United States–United Kingdom discussions, April 10, p. 356.