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Britain Threatens Sanctions if Egypt Bars Passage of Israel-bound Oil Tankers

The British-controlled Near East broadcasting station in Cyprus today carried a warning to Egypt indicating that Britain may cease to supply arms to Egypt should the Egyptian Government persist in prohibiting British oil from passing through the Suez Canal en route to the Haifa refineries in Israel.

At the same time the Cairo radio indicated in a broadcast that Egypt will use force, if necessary, to prevent oil tankers from passing through the Canal on their way to Israel. The broadcast revealed that a number of tankers passed through the canal without clearance papers.

Reuters reported today from Cairo that shipowners have complained about Port Said clearance delays which have often involved them in uneconomic demurrage charges. Britain protested to Egypt in May, 1949, over shipping detentions, claiming they constituted a violation of the Suez Canal Convention which provided for unrestricted passage for ships of all flags in peace and war. On June 20, 1949, Egypt agreed to ease restrictions and cease demanding certificates of ultimate destination, although it was announced that Britain considered that the relaxations did not go far enough.

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