Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: “US–UK Talks, Wash, 9/51, Briefing Book Egypt”

The Department of State to the British Embassy



1. We greatly appreciate British courtesy in keeping us informed regarding developments in the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations, in particular the details of United Kingdom defense proposals to Egypt, and are grateful for references to support given by the Department and Ambassador Caffery.

2. We have now been informed that the Government of Egypt has replied to the United Kingdom defense proposals, and that the reply in effect rejects these proposals and restates Egyptian demands in unaltered form.

3. While we are disappointed by the Egyptian response, we understand that the Government of Egypt considers the door still open for further negotiations and that it now awaits further communication from the United Kingdom.

4. Basic attitude of the United States regarding Anglo-Egyptian issue is that we sincerely hope that the United Kingdom and Egypt as parties to this question will be able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement which takes into account not only Egyptian national aspirations but also the vital question of security of the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East area. It is on the basis of the latter consideration that we have endeavored to leave no doubt with the Government of Egypt regarding our strong support for maintenance by the United Kingdom of important strategic facilities in Egypt.

5. Beginning with politico-military talks between the United Kingdom and the United States in Washington in 1947, and more recently in similar talks held here last October we have sought and, we continue to seek, ways and means to assist the United Kingdom in this situation within the framework of our basic position.

6. Following on these recent talks, the United States has studied the entire Near East situation and has formulated a new and more positive approach to the Near East which we wish to carry out in close correlation with the United Kingdom. It is our hope that this approach while not specifically directed at any one Near East problem, will contribute to a solution of the Anglo-Egyptian problem.

7. While the United Kingdom may be sure that we shall continue to give every possible support to its position in Egypt, we are apprehensive that a further decline in Anglo-Egyptian relations, with probable attendant disorders and a depreciation of the United Kingdom-United States position, might prejudice the successful execution of the new United States approach and go far to negate it.

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8. Although recent reports from Cairo indicate a less intransigent attitude on the part of the Government of Egypt regarding the necessity for action within the next few weeks, we are nonetheless concerned by a general restlessness among the Egyptian people and politicians over what they regard as an unsatisfactory state of affairs and by the analogy which is inevitably drawn between nationalization of oil in Iran and “nationalization” of bases in Egypt.

9. The United States desires, in common with the United Kingdom, to seek to avoid the development of a situation which might add to the tension already existing in the Near and Middle East, and we therefore trust that the following suggestions will be studied by the United Kingdom in the same friendly spirit which has motivated their formulation.

10. We believe that it is essential that the United Kingdom reply should, like the Egyptian communication, leave the door open for a continuance of negotiations. We also suggest that the reply, which it is hoped will be made at an early date, will express the importance and utility of a visit by the Egyptian Foreign Minister to London this summer. Such a visit would, in our opinion, confirm in a public manner that the negotiations have by no means been deadlocked. We feel that this would relieve popular pressure for unilateral abrogation of the treaty.

11. We would also suggest that consideration might be given to positive steps which might be taken to create a more favorable atmosphere for the renewal of the negotiations. In this connection it might be possible for the United Kingdom to resume shipments of a token quantity of arms to Egypt at about the same time as the new United States approach to the Near East becomes public knowledge.

12. In view of the urgency of this problem and its implication regarding the deployment of allied forces for the defense of the area, as well as its intimate relationship to the new United States approach to the Near East, the United States would be willing to consult with the United Kingdom at an early date on an informal and top secret basis in order to discuss any ways and means which in the opinion of the United Kingdom might be helpful in achieving a solution.