774.5/1–353: Telegram

No. 1069
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Department of State1


3643. Following is UK paper entitled “procedure for negotiation agreement with Egypt on defense issues” handed to us by Foreign Office January 32 for discussion Monday:

“Objectives of the UK and US Governments.

“1. The Governments of the UK and the US intend to enter into negotiation with the Egyptian Government in order to secure the voluntary association of Egypt with the West on arrangements for the defense of the Middle East against outside aggression. They will therefore propose a general settlement comprising:

  • “(a) A phased withdrawal of British armed forces from Egyptian territory;
  • “(b) The maintenance of the Canal Zone base in peace with a view to its immediate reactivation in the event of war;
  • “(c) An arrangement for the air defense of Egypt;
  • “(d) The participation of Egypt in a Middle East defense organization; and
  • “(e) A program of military and economic assistance to Egypt.


“2. The negotiations would begin by the US and UK Ambassadors at Cairo informing the Egyptian Prime Minister that the two governments are willing to discuss a general settlement on the above lines, since they believe it to be in the interest both of the Middle East and of the West Powers that such a settlement should be speedily brought about. The Ambassadors could indicate that if British troops are to be withdrawn from the Canal Zone, it is imperative that alternative arrangements be made at the same time for the defense of the Middle East as a whole. It is for this reason that all the items comprising the proposed general settlement should be treated as inter-dependent and discussed simultaneously. Once this is agreed in principle, technical committees could be set forthwith to deal with items (a), (b), (c) and (e) above. However [garble].

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[“3.] As regards item (d) (the participation of Egypt in the Middle East defense organization) it is likely that the Egyptian Government will prove reluctant to discuss it at all until arrangements for British withdrawal have been agreed, and will not wish to discuss it in detail until the withdrawal itself has been completed. Nevertheless, a binding commitment from the Egyptian Government to join an organization on the general lines contemplated by the sponsoring powers is essential, not only in order to avoid a vacuum in Middle East defense, but also to enable us to maintain our position in the other Arab States, and to justify the supply of arms to Egypt; the British and US Ambassadors should therefore obtain the concurrence of the Egyptian Government in principle to participate in a Middle East defense organization and at their discretion might hand the Egyptian Government a paper on the lines of the memorandum attached to Annex A. They could make it clear that if the Egyptian Government thought it desirable first to consult the other Arab Governments there would be no objection so far as we are concerned, and indeed we would be prepared ourselves on behalf of the sponsoring powers to make a prior approach to these governments in order to enable the Egyptian Government to discuss the position with them on the basis that the other Arab Governments will equally have the opportunity to participate in MEDO.

“4. Attached as Annexes B and C are drafts of general principles agreed by the US and UK Governments on the question of maintaining the Suez Canal base and the setting up of an air defense organization, which might serve as a basis for the discussions between the two Ambassadors and the Egyptian Government.3

“5. The US and UK Governments would at appropriate stages of negotiations, be prepared to provide military aid.

“6. Egypt’s economic difficulties should also be reviewed by the US and UK Governments with a view to seeing what economic aid could be provided.

“7. These secret exchanges should, if successful, result in the issue of three governmental communiqués:

  • “(i) By the UK Government stating their intention to evacuate their armed forces from Egypt by the end of 1954;
  • “(ii) By the Egyptian Government announcing their intention to enter a regional organization for Middle East defense, and to assume general responsibility for keeping the base in working order;
  • “(iii) By the US Government publicly endorsing the positions taken by the UK and Egyptian Governments.”

  1. Repeated to Cairo as telegram 188.
  2. The document presented below in general formed the basis for Paper No. 3 of the United States–United Kingdom Talks on Egypt. Subject to certain changes in it, some of which are described in telegram 3691 from London, Document 1071, this document officially became a paper entitled “Procedure for Negotiating Defence Agreement with Egypt”, and was approved by the representatives of the United States and United Kingdom, subject to the approval of their governments. (774.5/11453)
  3. The Embassy in London reported to the Department in telegram 3700, Jan. 7, not printed, that Annexes B and C of this British paper had been withdrawn. (774.5/1–753)