745W.00/7–1752: Telegram

No. 993
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1


437. Dept believes forthcoming visit Mahdi to Egypt may offer good opportunity for Egypts and pro-independence Sudanese work out their diffs and mutual suspicions. We believe UK might well take occasion formally encourage Egypts and Sudanese in these contacts. Utility so doing underscored by Sirry approach to Brits reported London’s 315 July 172 and his conv with Caffery reported Cairo tel 91 July 17.3 It wld also seem offer “peg. sought by FonOff (London’s 354 July 18).4 Dept most concerned by statement [Page 1836] London’s 325 July 17 “UK cld not even give Sudanese lead”.5 While we understand UK reluctance use pressure, statement attributed FonOff official not consistent with Eden statement to Secy that what Brits want is Sudanese decision on title which wld be close to what Egypt desires. Fact remains that Brits have taken some satis that they have been able persuade Mahdi send del to Egypt without conditions and that generally Mahdi seeks and expects Brit advice.

Since Brits do welcome Egypt efforts consult certain sections Sudanese opinion (London’s 271, July 15)6 we believe might be helpful if Brits made their point view more formally known to Egypts. We have in mind that possibly Eden or Churchill might send personal msg to Sirry Pasha to reach him prior or during Mahdi’s visit. Msg might develop fol pts: Express satis over mtg with Mahdi. UK most anxious reach agreement with Egypt. It fully approves and encourages direct consultation between Egypt and reps various sections Sudanese opinion which UK sincerely hopes will lead to agreement. If Egypt and Sudan can reach agreement on acceptance of symbolic dynastic union between Egypt and Sudan prior to eventual self-determination by Sudanese UK for its part wld consider its pledges to Sudanese fulfilled (i.e. recog of title wld be poss).

We believe above msg wld have desirable effect as evidence UK’s sincerity. We also believe Brit shld send similar msg to Mahdi order both he and Sirry cld start talks on common ground re Brit attitude.

We for our part wld be willing urge Sirry accept msg in same spirit it was sent and do utmost move away from extreme position.

[Page 1837]

Pls put above sugg urgently to highest FonOff off, preferably Eden if avail.

  1. Repeated to Cairo as telegram 108. Drafted by Stabler and approved by Secretary Acheson.
  2. In telegram 315 from London, July 17, not printed, Ambassador Gifford reported the Foreign Office had told him the previous evening that several days before Sirry Pasha had suggested to a British Embassy representative in Cairo that the two governments should resume conversations on the Sudan and the Suez Canal defense questions. (745W.00/7–1752)
  3. Ambassador Caffery, in telegram 91 from Cairo, July 17, not printed, informed the Department that he had spoken with Sirry Pasha the previous day, and that Sirry had expressed the conviction that the Mahdi would do whatever the British told him to do; therefore, he would refuse to recognize Farouk’s title. Sirry, however, declared his determination not to “let matter of Sudan title be put in moth balls.” (774.00/7–1752)
  4. In telegram 354 from London, July 18, not printed, Gifford reported that the British Minister of Embassy in Cairo, Creswell, had just had a conversation with Sirry Pasha, who repeated his charges that the British were influencing the Mahdi not to recognize Farouk’s title. Creswell denied the charge, and Sirry, later in the conversation, indicated he might be willing to conduct conversations about the defense question if the British would make a statement to the effect that they had no objection to the unity of Egypt and the Sudan. The British Foreign Office did not interpret this remark to mean that Sirry was willing to shelve the question of the King’s title, but merely that he might be willing to start talks on the defense problem first as part of a general overall settlement. The American Embassy representative who was given this information then suggested that the British should make a statement to offset the impression that the British did not want the Sudanese to recognize the title. The Foreign Office official responded that consideration was being given to this suggestion, but “one difficulty is to find peg on which to hang it since to make seemingly gratuitous statement this effect might arouse more suspicions than it allays.” (645.74/7–1852)
  5. The context of the quotation from telegram 325 from London, July 17, not printed, is as follows: a Foreign Office official was repeating the position that the British could not apply pressure to the Sudanese to guide them in the desired direction to achieve a settlement of the Sudan problem. In underscoring his meaning, the Foreign Office representative “reiterated UK cld not even give Sudanese lead.” (641.74/7–1752)
  6. Not printed.