231. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State1

2929. Re Embtel 2926.2 Following is text of tentative draft communiqué on Suez Canal received from Fawzi as “strictly personal and confidential”. In view 48 hour period before release mentioned by Fawzi, suggest any representations which Department might wish Embassy make should be sent as soon as possible tomorrow (Monday).

“Draft Communiqué: (tentative draft):

(Strictly Personal and Confidential)

“Official communiqué from the Government of Egypt.

“Since the day Egypt took over the operation of the Suez Canal she reaffirmed her determination to abide by her policy of respecting the 1888 Constantinople Convention, and has proved herself thoroughly able to manage the navigation in the Canal in spite of the great obstacles which were put before her until the aggression against her caused the closing of the Canal.

“On the occasion of the resumption of the navigation in the Suez Canal the Government of Egypt declares the following: [Page 431]

  • “1. That Egypt is still determined to respect in letter and in spirit the Constantinople Convention concluded in 1888.
  • “2. The system of levying of Canal dues will remain as it used to be according to the last agreement concluded between the Egyptian Government and the nationalized Suez Canal Company.
  • “3. The question of compensation and claims resulting from nationalization would be settled by either direct agreement or by arbitration.
  • “4. Canal dues are to be paid in advance to the Suez Canal Authority either in Egypt or elsewhere as determined by the Authority.
  • “5. The Authority of the Suez Canal shall create a special fund for the improvement programs or any other programs destined to meet the increase of traffic in the Canal, the said fund to be fed by allotting to it a certain proportion of the dues, which shall not be less than the average proportion allotted by the former Suez Canal Company to such programs.
  • “6. The Government of Egypt will make another detailed statement in this connection soon.

“This determination of the Government of Egypt proves that notwithstanding the great sacrifices which Egypt sustained as a result of the aggression against her, she is still loyal to the purpose of cooperation with the world community of nations so as to make her contribution to the realization of humanities, hopes for peace and prosperity.

“The Government of Egypt wishes the Canal to be once again a link of prosperity and peace between all the peoples of the world.”

End Draft Communiqué.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/3–1757. Confidential; Niact. Received at 8:28 p.m.
  2. Telegram 2926 from Cairo, March 17, reported that, according to Foreign Minister Fawzi, the Egyptian Government would be sending to the Embassy within a few hours the text of a draft communiqué which the Egyptian Government would possibly make public in 48 hours. After hearing a summary of the, Hare told Fawzi that it seemed at considerable variance with the four-power interim proposals for the Suez Canal. Fawzi acknowledged this fact and explained that the communiqué should not be considered as a response to the four-power proposals. He added that there probably would be no response to the proposals, as the Egyptian Government did not believe it would be proper to recognize any group of countries as the spokesman for the world users as a whole. (Ibid.)
  3. At the Secretary’s Staff Meeting on March 18, the Egyptian communiqué was discussed as follows:

    “Mr. Dillon said that they now had an advance copy of the communiqué which Fawzi had spoken to Hare about and the communiqué is slightly worse. Mr. Phleger said that it was tantamount to the rejection of the Committee of Four proposal and was sinister in not even mentioning the six principles.”

    “The Secretary asked whether we could issue Treasury licenses to permit paying tolls only in certain directions and Mr. Phleger replied that this was extremely complex in that although we could so issue licenses it might well run contrary to the laws of the flag country and it was not entirely clear what controls over US owners we had.” (Ibid., Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 63 D 75)