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Dulles Reaffirms to Arabs U.S. Position on Passage of Israeli Ships

The position of the United States Government with regard to the passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Akaba remains unchanged, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was reported here today to have told diplomats of 11 Arab states who called upon him in a collective demarche last Friday. They demanded that the U.S. agree to the barring of Israeli shipping from the two waterways.

Mr. Dulles was reported, by a State Department spokesman, to have stated to the Arab delegation that he wanted to study their collective request further before giving his opinion. In making known that Secretary Dulles reaffirmed the U.S. position on Suez and Akaba pertaining to Israeli shipping, the State Department spokesman also revealed that the Secretary of State told the Arab diplomats that he desires to find a peaceful and equitable solution.

Israel Ambassador Abba Eban, in a television interview today, referred to President Eisenhower’s statement of Feb. 21 in which the President said that he does not assume “that Egypt will violate its obligations and stop Israel’s ships in the Suez Canal, but if they do, there must be firm action by the society of nations.”

ISRAEL AND UNITED STATES IN “INTIMATE” TALKS ON SUEZ ISSUE

Mr. Eban revealed that Israel and the United States are now conducting “most intimate” talks and that the question of Israel’s sending a test ship through the Suez Canal “is one of the problems in which we are in fairly constant discussion with the United States.” He stressed the fact that President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles declared last week that there were no grounds for objecting to the use of the Suez Canal by Israel.

The Arab delegation which called on Mr. Dulles included diplomats of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya. The participation of the North Africans was noted in view of the fact the delegation also sought U.S. support on Algeria.

The Arabs rejected the theory that Israel has rights to innocent passage through the Suez Canal or the Gulf of Akaba. They expressed hope the United States would “use its influence” to dissuade Israel from sending a test ship into the Canal. Mr. Dulles was asked to see to it that no more U.S. ships like the tanker “Kern Hills” are leased for transit to Elath.

The Arabs charged that Israel last October breached the UN cease-fire and broke the existing armistice agreements. They also charged that Israel forces by air and sea are violating Saudi and Egyptian territorial waters. They alleged that Israeli warships “a few days ago came provocatively and menacingly to within 1, 000 yards of the Saudi Arabian military positions on the Gulf.” They stressed that the Gulf is considered by all Arabs to be a holy route for pilgrims.

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