641.74/8–552: Telegram

No. 999
The Charge in the United Kingdom (Holmes) to the Department of State1


648. In course conv today, Emb off discussed with FonOff gist of Deptel 811, Aug 4. FonOff official expressed opinion that many of indications which had come to it of willingness younger mil officers connected with coup to coop with West in def matters were prompted by desire obtain equip. He said FonOff view is that it wld be mistake comply with such requests until it were clear that Egypt wld coop in ME def. Nevertheless, FonOff agreed there is some hope in present sitn of splitting def and Sudan questions at proper time. He confirmed that renewed consideration being given UK def proposals at present time so that UK wld be prepared insofar as possible take advantage of any break in sitn as soon as it occurred. There are still many aspects of prob which UK must clarify before entering negots, but FonOff fully aware of this and working levels are doing necessary spade work. He was sure that in any event UK wld want discuss def proposals with US before putting them to Egypts, since close US–UK coordination might well be crucial in persuading Egypts to accept them.

Official then noted that Ali Maher has indicated he does not want discuss Sudan prob at present time. This raises problems for UK, since it must submit its comments on new Sudan constitution by Nov 8, which is expiry date of six months. Comments shld really be submitted before that time, since present plan is to hold elections in Sudan in Nov and time will be required to make necessary preparations. It wld still seem logical that UK and Egypt shld coordinate [Page 1849] their comments insofar as possible before submitting them to Sudan Govt. Ali Maher’s preference for delaying talks on Sudan therefore poses difficult question. Robertson returning from Sudan next week end on leave and FonOff plans discuss prob with him at that time.

Emb off asked whether it might not be possible postpone elections in Sudan for a time, since it wld appear that any UK move to try to get Egypts into convs on this ques might well prove to be self-defeating. If there is possibility splitting def and Sudan questions, it wld appear better to try to find some means of postponing question of Sudan question altogether until after def issue solved.

FonOff official saw little possibility postponing elections, since this wld inevitably raise howl in Sudan. Altho no formal commitments have been made, it is generally understood in Sudan that HMG favors attainment Sudanese self-govt by end of this year. Nov elections necessary to adhere to this goal. He did not think it necessarily followed that UK move to discuss Sudan constitution with Ali Maher wld result latter’s tying two questions together again, since Ali Maher wld undoubtedly realize that Sudan will have self-govt by end of year in any event and that it is better make Egypt point of view known on constitution.

  1. Repeated to Cairo as telegram 47.