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Egyptians Negotiating for Arms from Spain

The sale of substantial quantities of Spanish arms to Egypt is expected to result from the extended visit here of a military mission headed by Gen. Rizkalla Attia, the Egyptian army’s chief supply officer. The group came on invitation of the Spanish Government within a few days of Egypt’s decision to buy arms from Czechoslovakia. Spain’s arms factories are now being modernized under the American aid program.

Egypt bought Spanish arms early in 1954 but the British, then still in the Suez Canal zone and under systematic attack by Egyptian commando units, repeatedly protested the sale of Spanish arms to Egypt. In July 1954, the Foreign Office announced “the export of arms to countries outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will be prohibited.”

Some sources here report that Gen. Attia was instructed to explore the possibility of manufacturing the Spanish “Alfa” machinegun in Egypt.

On the political side the Egyptian visit produced results of more than routine interest. Acknowledging the gift of an 18th century Egyptian scimitar presented to him by Gen. Attia, Gen. Francisco Franco re-affirmed Spain’s support of the Arab cause and spoke approvingly of the course followed by the Nasser regime.

“We are entering a new era and we who live in it must adapt ourselves to the new idea taking hold in the world,” Gen. Franco said. “For this reason we understand the acts of the Egyptian people and of its Army to secure their nation’s independence…”

Referring to Arab antagonism towards Israel, Franco said: “We can assure you that we have not been insensible to your sufferings and that we share the feelings of those Arabs who have been expelled from their homes.”

If Gen. Franco expressed disquiet regarding Egypt’s purchase of Communist weapons he did so privately, behind closed doors.

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