WASHINGTON (Jul. 15)
The State Department is studying the blockade of the Suez Canal by Egypt to Haifa-bound oil tankers, and a decision on action may be made within a few days, government sources indicated today.
While there is no desire to offend the Arabs, the U.S. may join with Britain at the United Nations this week in an attempt to force Egypt to cease the sabotage of the Haifa refineries through the blockade of the vital Suez link. The Western action has been brought about because the Iranian crisis threatens the Near Eastern oil supply and the Haifa refineries, owned by British and Dutch interests, have been virtually unused since Iraq quit pumping oil to Israel in 1948.
It is considered important that oil be brought to Haifa, the third largest refinery in the Near East, if the supply of Near Eastern oil is to be adequate for Atlantic Pact defense requirements. (A report from London stated that four British destroyers have been ordered from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea to protect British vessels in that area following the boarding July 1 of a British vessel by an Egyptian coastal patrol which took over the ship for twelve hours.)
The Department said this weekend Saudi Arabia has been designated as the first Arab country to be included in the Mutual Defense Assistance program and that the U.S. Army will train Saudi Arabian forces in the use of equipment to be provided under the agreement. The Saudi Arabian Government agreed not to undertake any act of aggression against another state.
An agreement for the use by the U.S. Air Force of the Dhahran air field was also announced. The U.S. also agreed to train Arabs in airfield maintenance and operation. The agreement said that Saudi Arabia is considered important to the security of the United States.