WASHINGTON (Aug. 30)
The British Government’s decision today to lift its three-year-old embargo on arms shipments to Egypt was bailed by State Department sources here. These sources, which were emphatic on the need to arm the Arab League states, indicated that the State Department felt that it was enough to obtain “assurances” from the Arabs that they would not use such arms aggressively.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Egyptian Embassy here predicted today that negotiations in Cairo for the granting of American military aid to Egypt would be completed in about a week. He said that with such new American weapons Egypt might expand its army to 500, 000 men within a year.
In an interview published in the current issue of U.S. News and World Report, Premier Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt demanded that the United States supply Egypt with arms, but expressed the hope that “no pressure will be put on us, especially as regards a prior settlement of the Israel question. We will settle that problem ourselves, ” he insisted.
Opposition to the arming of Arab League states under present circumstances was reiterated here by Israel diplomats. An Israel source said that in any case, as a prerequisite to the sending of arms, the Western nations should first require Egypt to lift its anti-Israel blockade of the Suez Canal. An Israel spokesman said a question now exists as to whether today’s decision by Britain to send munitions to Egypt is a violation of the tripartite declaration of 1950.
State Department officials took issue with Israel complaints regarding the Suez Blockade. They defended Egypt to a considerable degree, insisting that Egypt does nothing more than exercise its legal right to visit and search foreign shipping in Egyptian territorial waters.