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British Cabinet Meets on Middle East; Will Issue White Paper on Arms

The British Cabinet met in an extraordinary session today to consider the growing crisis in the Middle East and Britain’s role in that situation. The Cabinet decided at that meeting to issue a White Paper detailing British arms shipments to the Middle East states, but turned thumbs down on an early recall of Parliament to debate the government’s Middle East policy.

The Cabinet meeting followed a visit today by Liberal Party leader Clement Davies on Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden to discuss the problem of British arms supplies to the Middle East. This visit had been preceded by one yesterday by Hugh Gaitskell, recently elected leader of the Labor Party, who urged Sir Anthony to recall Parliament for a debate and to issue a White Paper to clarify Britain’s role in the shipment of arms to Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.

The Cabinet meeting was preceded by one at 10 Downing Street, residence of the Prime Minister, of Mr. Eden and the chiefs of all the British armed services. It is understood that the question of arms supplies to the Middle East was discussed. Tomorrow, the new Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd, will confer with eight British diplomats accredited to Middle East capitals who were hastily summoned to London this week.

After the meeting between Mr. Davies and Sir Anthony this morning, the Prime Minister’s office issued a communique noting that Sir Anthony had pointed out to Mr. Davies that “control of the export of surplus war materiels had been stringently revised last summer.” The Prime Minister also drew Mr. Davies’ attention to “earlier statements concerning this matter and to the fact that for the first time since 1945 licenses for the export of material which had been reconditioned and re-exported for military purposes had been suspended unless a guarantee was given that it would not be put to military uses.”

Meanwhile, informed circles here stated that the British Government is satisfied that the new arrangements now in force will effectively prevent military equipment sold as surplus from reaching the countries of the Middle East from British sources. The British press has in recent weeks kept up a continuous drumfire of criticism over the export of “surplus” tanks and other materiel from Britain to Belgium where it is reconditioned and sent to Egypt.

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