774.56/3–2053: Telegram

No. 1129
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Aldrich) to the Department of State1


5207. When I saw Eden on March 16 (Embtel 5110)2 he said he had recently had report to effect that US was about begin shipment lethal weapons to Egypt. He did not have details at his finger tips and was vague, but seemed concerned. I told him I had no recent information which would indicate that negotiations with Egypt regarding $11 million program had reached this point. If, however, he wished send me memo on subject, I would be glad to transmit it to Washington for verification.

There is quoted below abbreviated text memo which Embassy has not received from Foreign Office. While much of information for which Foreign Office requests confirmation is contained in our files, Embassy is somewhat uncertain how current it is. Embassy would appreciate Department’s confirmation its understanding or, where Embassy information incomplete, Department’s guidance for our use in replying. To assist Department, Embassy comments follow parenthetically after each item.

[Page 2030]

“In memo 10 February HMG offered certain comments on lists of arms and military equipment which USG contemplated supplying Egypt.

  • “2. HMG understands present position as follows:
    • “A. USG has indicated Egyptian Government willingness supply $11 million worth of military equipment. (Correct. See Deptel 5415 February 13)3
    • “B. This equipment to be paid for. (Correct. See Deptel 4894 January 24 [23])
    • “C. No firm commitment has yet been entered into for supply of any item. (Apparently correct. See Deptel 5849 Mar 4)3
    • “D. List containing items, quantities and tentative delivery dates was handed Egypt representative Washington on 13 February. This list included:

      “(I) 70 armored cars for delivery within 45 days; (II) 100 medium tanks for delivery within one year; and (III) 152,000 rounds .76 mm ammunition for tanks for delivery within two years. (Correct except that amount of .76 mm ammunition should be something less than 100,000 rounds. See Deptels 5093 January 314 and 5389 February 13.5 It would be helpful if Department could indicate precise amount offered.)

    • “E. USG now awaits Egypt comments on list. (Apparently correct. See Deptel 5849 March 4).
    • “F. Meanwhile small quantities of .30 and .50 caliber and .37 mm ammunition, all for training purposes have been added to list and quantity of .76 mm ammunition reduced. (Correct, except that this section should be moved up to D above since items are part of original offered Egyptians. See Deptel 5389. It would be helpful if Department could indicate amount of .30 and .50 caliber and .37 mm ammunition.)
    • “G. In practice, neither tanks nor armored cars would be delivered for a year and ammunition not for two years. (Foreign Office says this based report Secretary’s conversation with Makins February 19. However, we understand armored cars would be for delivery within 45 days. Delivery period on all items indicates only that no substantial deliveries likely be made until latter part of period indicated. See Deptel 5258 February 7.)3
    • “H. On 18 February US Secretary of State informed press correspondents that there had been discussion but no definite decision on allowing Egypt buy in US small amount military equipment of type not suitable for war with Israel. (Correct. See Deptel 5543 February 19.)6
  • “3. Also understanding of HMG that USG does not contemplate delivery to Egypt of any lethal weapons while political situation in Egypt, and relations between Egypt and UK, remain disturbed. (While I have impression this understanding is correct, Embassy cannot find this precise wording in records which, however, indicate that an afternoon meeting at Foreign Office February 4, Secretary told Eden we would take steps to delay delivery of more lethal items so that deliveries could be held up if any hitch developed.7 Also Byroade’s conversations with Makins reported Deptel 5001 January 28 in which Byroade referred to tensions over Sudan and threatening statements against British troops and said he realized if this situation should grow steadily worse, we should not offer Naguib military equipment. Also Department’s instructions to Caffery contained Deptel 5220 February 58 that we are proceeding with offer military equipment on basis that satisfactory turn in Sudan negotiations will be accompanied by cessation threatening statements. In light these and any other information contained Department’s files, Embassy would appreciate guidance regarding reply it should make on this paragraph.)
  • “4. HMG would be grateful if US Embassy could confirm that this is present position. They would also be glad know if there have been any recent developments in this matter.” (Please provide information for reply this point.)
  1. Repeated to Cairo as telegram 283.
  2. In telegram 5110 from London, Mar. 16, not printed, Ambassador Aldrich reported that Eden that morning had emphasized to him the depth of feeling that the British Government had regarding the following points contained in telegraphic instructions sent to Ambassador Makins in Washington: that the British Government could not accept the Egyptian position on opening the defense negotiations; that the British could open negotiations on the basis of American participation from the outset and on the basis that the Egyptians accept the British wish to put forward all elements of the package proposal; and that the British wanted to have Stevenson put these points forcefully to Naguib and hoped that the United States would not object. (774.5/3–1653)
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. See footnote 3, Document 1088.
  6. Printed as telegram 1626, Document 1099.
  7. Not printed.
  8. Printed as telegram 1668, Document 1102.
  9. See telegram 4308 from London, Document 1091.
  10. Printed as telegram 1585, Document 1093.