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U.S. Will Not Act on Suez Blockade Now, State Dept. Says

The State Department today indicated that it will not intercede in the Suez settlement to guarantee free passage of the Canal to shipping bound to and from Israel, because “it would not be appropriate for this Government to urge the parties directly involved to introduce a new matter of principle at this point in the discussions.”

“To do so would undoubtedly hinder the achievement of a final agreement,” said Assistant Secretary of State Thurtston B. Morton, who wrote on behalf of Secretary Dulles. Mr. Morton’s communication was addressed to Chairman Leverett Saltonstall, of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who recently joined with a bipartisan group of legislators to urge the State Department to intercede in the Suez settlement to the end that justice would be done in connection with Israel’s interests.

The State Department stressed, however, that “restriction on traffic to and from Israel is one aspect of the entire problem of Arab-Israel relations, an improvement, which is a primary objective of the United States in the Near East.”

“This Government,” the communication stated, “stands fully behind the Security Council resolution of September 1,1951, calling upon Egypt to lift restrictions on Suez Canal traffic bound to or from Israel. This resolution remains valid despite the Soviet veto of a similar resolution on this subject which was debated by the Security Council early this year. The United States in the past has called upon Egypt to respect the 1951 resolution, and will continue to urge compliance with it.”

Meanwhile Secretary Dulles was asked today by Rep. Emanuel Celler, New York Democrat, to explain why Israel’s application for U. S. military assistance has been ignored since 1952, while arms have been granted to Iraq, and a similar arrangement is being negotiated with Egypt.

The congressman asked a number of other questions, pertaining principally to whether Egypt has indicated any intention of improving its relations with Israel in connection with the Suez settlement. He wanted to know how we could express concern to Spain recently about Spanish shipment of arms to Egypt, when the United States herself is preparing to do the same thing.

Rep. Celler also asked if the State Department is doing anything to persuade Egypt to abandon its anti-Israel blockade of the Suez waterway.

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