WASHINGTON (Mar. 5)
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles today announced at his press conference that the United States will resume aid to Israel as soon as the conditions which led to the suspension of aid are corrected. Resumption of American aid, he said, would be on a “country by country” basis, and as each country to which aid was suspended meets conditions for resumption, a decision would be made. The U.S. would not withhold aid from one country if another has not met conditions, he declared.
Secretary Dulles reported a tendency on the part of Egypt “to drag its feet” on the re-opening of the Suez Canal. He indicated that resumption of aid to Egypt might depend on re-opening of the Canal. Defining the conditions that must be met before aid is restored, Mr. Dulles said that after Israel withdraws its troops behind the armistice lines and it seems a period of tranquillity is at hand with the danger of outbreaks having subsided, then U.S. aid personnel may return.
There is no reason to assume Egypt will discriminate against Israel shipping in the Suez Canal, Mr. Dulles said. He refused to state the American position in the event of Egyptian insistence on belligerent rights after a complete Israel withdrawal. He said there have been grounds to believe Egypt did not want the Suez opened until Israel withdrew and he expressed hope the situation would now change.
DENIES THAT SECRET COMMITMENTS WERE MADE BY U.S. TO ISRAEL
Secretary Dulles strongly denied that any secret commitments were made to Israel. He said the U.S. position of withdrawal was “fully and totally” set forth in public documents. He cited the February 11 proposals, expressions by President Eisenhower, and the United Nations statement of Ambassador Lodge, head of the American delegation to the UN. He answered a number of questions on the future of the Gaza Strip by citing Mr. Lodge’s statement, saying the U.S. position was stated therein.
The Secretary of State declared that he does not think President Eisenhower’s most recent letter to Israel Premier Ben Gurion should be interpreted as endorsing everything Israel Foreign Minister Gold Meir said in her troop withdrawal statement at the United Nations last Friday. He said the President’s letter pertained generally to the hopes and expectations of a better future for the area but was not an endorsement of everything Mrs. Meir said. He indicated the President had Ambassador Lodge’s statement in mind.
Asked if the U.S. opposed a resumption of Egyptian military control of the Gaza Strip, Mr. Dulles would say only that the United States had stated its position “quite fully and carefully” in Mr. Lodge’s statement at the United Nations. The Secretary of State said in a prepared statement:
“It is a matter of great gratification to the United States that the Government of Israel has decided to complete its withdrawal behind the armistice line in compliance with the United Nations resolution of February 2 and that a schedule for effectuating such withdrawal has been worked out with General Burns, the commander of the United Nations Emergency Forces. Once again it has been demonstrated that free world nations have a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, as reflected in the General Assembly of the United Nations.
“As President Eisenhower recognized in his letter to Prime Minister Ben Gurion of March 2, 1957, the Israeli decision was not an easy one. We believe, however, that the decision will prove to have been a wise one from the standpoint not only of Israel but of all the nations concerned. It should, as President Eisenhower said, make it possible to bring about conditions in the area more stable, more tranquil, and more conducive to the general welfare than those which existed heretofore.”
NO PLAN TO SEND U.S. SHIP THROUGH THE STRAIT OF TIRAN
Mr. Dulles said it was a highly complicated question of international law to determine the status of the Strait of Tiran, in the Akaba area. He said that in one sense the Strait was in Egypt’s territorial waters. But also, he said, a principle of international law provides for a right of free and innocent passage because of the international character of the Strait. He held that the International Court of Justice should make a final
The Secretary of State made known that there was no prearranged plan to send a ship of U.S. registry through the Strait. However, he thought that with development of the port of Elat it might be assumed a ship of U. S. registry would go there. But this was not based on any information from shipping companies, he said.