774.5/3–853: Telegram

No. 1114
The Ambassador in Egypt (Caffery) to the Department of State 1

top secret
priority

2008. I am in hearty agreement with views expressed by Secretary, as reported Deptels 1775 and 1776, repeated London 5956 and 5957, March 7.

As I have previously indicated there is no possibility that Egyptians will accept plan “A”.2 As Byroade pointed out in London, there is some possibility that elements of “A” and “B” can be achieved provided UK and United States Governments are able to produce an acceptable program of economic and military assistance.

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As for Eden’s view that British would rather stay in Canal on present basis than give up treaty rights for formula less satisfactory to them than case “A,” I pointed out that in any event they will have to get out in three years and, meanwhile, would have to carry on in hostile territory.

On tactics, I trust Department will keep in mind that negotiation would be considerably enhanced from both UK and United States point of view if I did not enter immediately with Stevenson in joint démarche on problem of evacuation and terms for turn-over of base. We shall have much more leverage if I should be free in initial phases of negotiation to intervene “behind the scenes” as I did in case of Sudan. Stevenson and I appearing jointly at outset at negotiation table will get nowhere. If we are to get anywhere, it will be by my “behind the scenes” talks with Naguib, members of RCM [ RCC ] and Fawzi. Department will undoubtedly also have in mind disadvantages to United States interests if evacuation and base negotiations fail completely and we should be identified in Egypt, as well as Arab, mind as being on par with British in insisting on occupying Zone until expiry of 1936 treaty.

Subject to observations set out above, White House formula, which Eden will put to London, is something to work on. However, it would be most unfortunate if once more, as in 1951, exigencies of British domestic politics should spoil presentation of our case to Egyptian Government.

Re penultimate paragraph Deptel 1775, sent London 5956, recent letters to Byroade 3 have pointed out that Naguib and his officers are increasingly aware of need to seek peace settlement with Israel, if only for practical reasons.

Caffery
  1. Repeated to London as telegram 679.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 1106.
  3. Not printed; for documentation on the Arab-Israeli conflict, see Documents 947 ff.