Conference Files: Lot 59 D 95: “Wash For Min Mtg—Position Papers”

Agreed United States–United Kingdom Paper1

top secret

The Sudan

In discussing the defence problem the Conference took particular account of Conclusion (H) of the Joint Appreciation prepared by [Page 384] the United Kingdom and the United States Ambassadors at Alexandria2 to the effect

“no Egyptian Government would be ready to enter into a defence agreement without a simultaneous settlement of the Sudan question”.

The Conference also took account of the consequential recommendations No. IV, V and VI of the Joint Appreciation as follows:

Renewed consideration should be given to the possibility of according public recognition to the legal and constitutional status of the Egyptian Crown in regard to the Sudan.
An early date should be fixed for the attainment of self-government by the Sudan and the principle of self-determination for the Sudanese should be maintained.
Further thought should be given to the possibility of an international guarantee of an Egypto-Sudanese Nile Waters agreement.

The United Kingdom representative pointed out that it was the considered view of the Governor General of the Sudan that the Sudanese make no distinction between the public recognition of the legal and constitutional status of the Egyptian Crown in regard to the Sudan and recognition of Egyptian sovereignty implying the establishment of Egyptian rule. Mr. Bowker went on to say that for this reason he thought it must be accepted as a fact that to attempt now to make some public recognition of the legal and constitutional status of the Egyptian Crown in regard to the Sudan would cause grave disturbances in the Sudan and was impracticable.

The Conference took note of this view but felt that some move with regard to the Sudan is an essential element in the success of proposals about the Command.3 They therefore considered what other steps could be taken to try to meet Egyptian aspirations over the Sudan. It was pointed out that apart from Egypt’s wish for purposes of prestige to establish a constitutional link between Egypt and the Sudan her main preoccupation was the fear that the British were trying to use their position in the Sudan to insure that the Sudan should ultimately be separated from Egypt and to exercise their influence with the Sudanese to that effect. It was agreed that the line which might be best presented as offering satisfactory safeguards to Egypt in this respect was to suggest the appointment of a United Nations or other international commission, on which Egypt would be represented, whose functions would be to keep a watch on constitutional developments in the Sudan and make recommendations on the manner [Page 385] in which the Sudanese should ultimately choose their international status. The commission would be charged specifically with the task of watching the interests both of the Sudanese and Egyptians. It was thought that such a suggestion would at the same time provide the Egyptians with the means of ensuring that their own essential interests were not prejudiced during the final stages of the Sudan’s constitutional development and also provide Egypt with an acceptable way of relaxing her present insistence on immediate public recognition of the constitutional position of the Egyptian Crown in regard to the Sudan.

It was recommended that this suggestion should be accompanied by a reiteration of the United Kingdom’s readiness to consider a statement of agreed principles in regard to the Sudan on the lines already put forward in the United Kingdom Ambassador’s recent talks with the Egyptian Foreign Minister and to consider some form of international guarantee of an Egypto-Sudanese Nile Waters Agreement on the lines of Recommendation VI of the Joint Appreciation. This might possibly be associated with the formulation of a Nile Valley development authority for which the International Bank might if necessary be asked to provide some financial assistance.

The Conference thought that there would be a considerable advantage in aiming at the possibility of fixing an early date for the attainment of self-government by the Sudan.

The Conference thought that the Egyptians would put themselves in a weak position in regard to international opinion if they were to refuse proposals of this kind and, that provided the new approach on the defence issue were presented in a sufficiently attractive form, there was reason to hope that the Egyptians would hesitate to risk a complete deadlock owing to their attitude over the Sudan.

It was agreed that consideration would be given to any possible further steps which might go some way towards meeting the Egyptian position on the Sudan with the objective of eliminating it as an obstacle to agreement on the defence issue e.g. perhaps the appointment of a “neutral” Governor General.

  1. See editorial note, supra.
  2. Reference is to an undated 19-page Joint Intelligence Estimate agreed to by the American and British Embassies in Cairo, not printed. Two copies of this document were transmitted to the Department of State by Ambassador Caffery in despatch 505 from Cairo, August 28, and are in Department file 641.74/8–2851.
  3. Reference is to the Middle East Command.