WASHINGTON (Jul. 8)
The State Department today informed 25 United States Senators-in response to their concern over Egyptian restrictions on the movement of Israeli cargoes through the Suez Canal-that “the U.S. Government’s position with respect to the unrestricted use of the canal is clear and unequivocal.” Referring to a question of a loan to Egypt to widen the canal, the State Department said there was awareness of “freedom of transit” issue.
The State Department made known its views in response to a joint telegram addressed to President Eisenhower by a bi-partisan group of 25 Senators. The Senators voiced concern to the President regarding developments involving the Suez Canal. William Macomber. Assistant Secretary of State, replied for the White House.
Mr. Macomber told the Senators: “While the efforts at settlement currently being undertaken by the United Nations, supported by the United States and other powers, would appear for the present to constitute the most effective means of seeking a satisfactory solution, you may be assured that we will continue to take every appropriate measure which may contribute to a resolution of this problem.”
He pointed out that the American executive director of International Bank for Reconstruction and Development “is aware of developments in this matter and is also conversant with our long-standing policy in support of the principle of freedom of transit through the canal.”
Mr. Macomber recalled that the United States joined with France and England in September, 1951, to sponsor a United Nations resolution calling on Egypt to terminate restrictions on Suez transit. “This position, ” he said, “was reaffirmed by a majority of the Security Council in voting in favor of a draft resolution, subsequently vetoed by the Soviet Union, on March 27, 1954, which called upon Egypt to comply with the 1951 resolution. Further statements by U.S. officials, including one by Ambassador Lodge in the Security Council on April 26, 1957, have maintained the position that there should at all times be free and non-discriminatory passage through the canal for all countries.”
According to Mr. Macomber the United Arab Republic is “fully conversant with the U.S. position. ” He cited the visit of UN Secretary-General Hammarskjold to Cairo and said: “It is hoped that the transit problem may be resolved between the parties immediately concerned, and we are encouraging and supporting the continuing efforts on the part of Mr. Hammarskjold.” He revealed that the U.S. Government has already discussed the Suez transit issue in Cairo with UAR authorities.
The Senators who wrote to the President were: Senators Douglas (D-IIL), Bartlett (D-Alaska), Allott (R-Colo), Beall (R-Md.), Capehart (R-Ind.), Carroll (D-Colo), Case (R-N. J.), Engle (D-Calif.), Gruening (D-Alaska), Hart (D-Mich.), Javits and Keating (R-N. Y.), Moss(D-Utah.), Hennings (D-Mo.), McGee (D-Wyo.), Morse (D-Ore), Murray (D-Mont), Neuberger (D-Ore.), Proxmire (D-Wis.), Saltonstall (R-Mass.), Scott (R-Pa), Symington (D-Mo.), Wiley (R-Wis.), Williams (D-N. J), Young (D-Ohio).
STATE DEPARTMENT’S STATEMENT CONSIDERED “TOO VAGUE AND NEBULOUS”
Rep. Leonard Farbstein, New York Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, termed the State Department expression on the Suez Canal transit issue as “too vague and nebulous.” He had raised the issue with President Eisenhower and received a reply from Assistant Secretary of State William Macomber similar to the communication Mr. Macomber sent to 25 members of the Senate.
After studying the U.S. position as enunciated by Mr. Macomber, Rep. Farbstein thought a stronger stand necessary. He characterized the Administration’s statement as inadequate and weak and said that he would continue to work on this issue.
The United States, he stated, should withhold economic aid to Egypt and refrain from issuing a loan to widen the canal until Egypt showed response to its obligations. He said that a loan to Egypt at this time to aid in canal development would in effect, constitute collaboration by the U.S. Government with Egypt in the Egyptian Government’s present discriminatory operation of the canal.