641.74/7–1554: Telegram

No. 1344
The Ambassador in Egypt (Caffery) to the Department of State1


71. 1. Today’s three-hour meeting between British and Egyptian teams resulted, according British Embassy, in “considerable progress on number points of substance, but not on duration period, withdrawal period, nor Iran”.

2. Egyptians conceded:

Movement material into and out of base.
Operation base for current British requirements.
British views regarding consultation clause.
“Much improved” air clause (Egyptians agreed to clear flights operationally without recourse to diplomatic channels).
Satisfactory formula regarding visits of inspection.

3. In same category, Egyptians would not withdraw their opposition to phrase “common concern for defense”, nor agree to enlargement of contractor’s clause to permit use of contractors from other Arab States.

4. British Embassy commented on skillful and serious manner in which Nasir presented Egyptian case regarding three unagreed major points. Concessions by Egyptians listed above intended by him as evidence Egyptian goodwill and willingness to make settlement.

Iran. This was impossible for reasons stated my 57 (Britains say they could leave out Iran, but Iraq has recently made it clear to United Kingdom that it will resent this omission).
Withdrawal period. This question “major political importance” for RCC which wants no British troops in country when elections to which RCC committed are held in January 1956. (Britains believe Nasir disposed to help them on this if he can find a way to do so. Present calculation is that at end 15 months, Britains will have 9,000 pioneers and 5,000 working troops and about 3,000 guards.)
Duration period. Nasir reiterated previous arguments that he is irrevocably committed to seven years and then pointed out following reasons why United Kingdom should accept this offer:
Egypt is conceding to United Kingdom for first time a base in Egypt; 1936 Treaty provided no base rights.
By proposed agreement, Egypt is “irrevocably tying herself up with the West”; he will have considerable difficulties on this score and to go beyond seven years would make greater difficulties.
Last summer United Kingdom agreed to seven years as fulfilling British interests; he failed to see how civilianization of base could change this period.

5. British Embassy hopeful that London’s instructions will be received in time for another meeting Saturday, but no date fixed.2

  1. Repeated priority to London as telegram 71.
  2. In telegram 297 from London, July 16, not printed, Ambassador Aldrich reported that the Foreign Office had given the Embassy no indication that the British would agree to a 7–year duration; that the British apparently would not insist on the inclusion of Iran in the availability formula in view of the Egyptians’ objections; that with regard to the attitude of Iraq, the Foreign Office did not attach much importance to the Iraqi position; and that owing to Eden’s absence, it would not be possible to get instructions to Stevenson to enable him to meet again when he had hoped to with the Egyptians. (641.74/7–1654)