High U.S. Official Flies to Egypt to Halt Arms Deal with Soviets
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High U.S. Official Flies to Egypt to Halt Arms Deal with Soviets

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George V. Allen, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, left by air today for Cairo to make a dramatic last-minute personal appeal to Egyptian Premier Abdel Nasser in an attempt to persuade Egypt not to go through with its announced munitions agreement with Czechoslovakia.

The State Department disclosed the Allen trip only a few minutes before he boarded a plane at Washington’s National Airport. State Department sources said it was likely Mr. Allen would offer Col. Nasser U.S. arms on terms desired by Egypt as an alternative to allowing the Communist Bloc to gain influence in Egypt.

Mr. Allen’s action came as a result of rapid decisions taken at top levels in the government following Col. Nasser’s announcement in Cairo last night that Egypt has concluded an arrangement with Czechoslovakia in which surplus Egyptian cotton would be bartered for Czech munitions of war. Informed government sources reported that Henry A. Byroade, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, is urging the State Department to expedite a grant of munitions to Egypt to offset the Czech deal. Mr. Byroade reportedly urged an outright free grant to Egypt to avert a “Communist bridgehead” in Egypt.


The sudden departure of Assistant Secretary Allen for Egypt was decided upon after consultation with Vice President Richard M. Nixon, it was learned. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Herbert Hoover, Jr., Under Secretary of State, urged the emergency flight to Cairo. The nature of counter-proposals Mr. Allen took with him could not be immediately determined.

Mr. Allen only yesterday reassured Israel Ambassador Abba Eban that the United States had not made an arms deal with Egypt. Israel sought clarification of reports that the United States might provide Egypt with arms. It is believed by informed government sources that decisions have been taken by the Department regarding the supply of arms to Egypt since early this morning.

The main element of strategy now, according to these sources, is to head off the Egyptian-Czech arrangement. It remains to be seen if this will be done at the expense of Israel. Meanwhile, it was learned here today that in view of the Czech-Egyptian arms deal, Israel wants to know if the United States will supply arms to Israel under terms of the Tripartite Declaration of 1950 under which the United States is committed, along with Britain and France, to the maintenance of a balance of power in the Middle East.

Informed sources revealed that Ambassador Eban directed this question yesterday to Mr. Allen when he met with him. No action has been taken for three years on an Israel request filed in Washington for a free arms grant although such a grant was made to Iraq. Israel is permitted to buy certain categories of arms here, a program also available to Egypt and other Arab states. But many export licenses requested by Israel are still pending and the amount of munitions approved for sale to Israel is small.

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