Memorandum of Conversation, by the
Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs (Kopper)
- British Views on the Early Establishment of the MEC.
- Mr. Bernard A. B. Burrows, Counselor, British Embassy.
- Mr. Denis Greenhill, First Secretary, British Embassy.
- Mr. F. W. Marten, First Secretary, British Embassy.
- Mr. Burton Y. Berry, Acting Asst. Secretary, NEA.
- Mr. G. Lewis Jones, Acting Deputy Asst. Secretary, NEA.
- Mr. Harold B. Hoskins, Regional Planning Adviser, NEA.
- Mr. Alexander B. Daspit, Politico-military Adviser, NEA.
- Mr. John H. Ferguson, Deputy Director, S/P.
- Mr. Francis L. Spalding, Intelligence Adviser, RA.
- Mr. Samuel K. C. Kopper, Acting Director, NE.
Representatives of the British Embassy called on Mr. Berry this afternoon to inform the Department of the most recent British views regarding the establishment of the Middle East Command. Mr. Burrows said that the Foreign Office now believed that it was time to get along with the establishment of the MEC. He then distributed the two attached memoranda1 which he said represented the latest thinking. He pointed out, however, that these papers had been prepared before the new government of Ali Maher Pasha had taken over in Egypt.2
Mr. Burrows said that the UK now believed: (1) there was no further obstacle to setting up MEC now that Greece and Turkey were just about in NATO; (2) it was necessary to get on with MEC if the Middle East countries were to take it seriously. There were points of tactics which remained to be settled such as the type of organization to be set up; timing of meetings; when to talk to the Turks, etc. The French Government was also being informed of the British views now. Finally, the UK thought that it would be a good idea to have a meeting of the sponsoring powers in London in the first part of March immediately after the NATO Lisbon meeting.3
Mr. Berry said that he was glad to see that there were proposals to get ahead with the MEC. He observed that we might have to talk with the Turks earlier. Mr. Burrows envisaged informing the Turks before Lisbon. Mr. Jones wondered whether the British had given thought to the possibility of Egypt joining in the post-Lisbon meeting. Mr. Ferguson believed that we ought to consider getting Egypt in if it was at all possible. Mr. Burrows said that several of these points had occurred to the British Embassy here. They had already made them known to London.[Page 180]
Mr. Ferguson asked whether the MEC would have arms supply functions. Mr. Greenhill replied that this was to be left to the tripartite coordinating organization which would have the coordinating powers. Eventually it might be absorbed in MEC. There ensued a discussion as to when the Turks should be informed. Mr. Jones and Mr. Kopper felt that it ought to be as soon as possible. Mr. Marten thought that the three powers should first get their views in order. Mr. Berry said that it was essential that this be done before Lisbon.
Mr. Jones asked whether the Commonwealth would be in on the London meeting. Mr. Marten replied that the Commonwealth would be kept informed in the same way the Turks were being informed. Mr. Jones asked what sort of representation the British would expect at the London meeting. Mr. Burrows said that reasonably high representation on both the politico and military side. While the discussions would be secret, it would be no secret that the meetings were taking place. Mr. Spalding questioned whether London was the best place to hold the meeting. He suggested Cyprus. Mr. Jones inquired by inference about Washington. Mr. Burrows repeated that the British hoped it would be in London.
Mr. Hoskins said that we should keep the Arab States in mind and not do anything which was going to make our selling of the MEC more difficult. Mr. Burrows said this was a good point which they would keep in mind as well as the desirability of having Egypt join in the talks.
- The attached memoranda comprise one part of a British diplomatic-military approach to the U.S. Government. Also, on Jan. 31, the British Air Chief Marshal sent a letter to Gen. Omar Bradley concerning the establishment of a Middle East Command. For a summary of the letter, see footnote 2, Document 64.↩
- For documentation regarding the fall of the Wafd government following the Jan. 26 riots in Cairo, see Document 956 ff.↩
- For documentation on the Lisbon meeting, see vol. v, Part 1, pp. 107 ff.↩