State Dept. Declares It ‘firmly Supports’ Free Transit of Suez Canal

Assistant Secretary of State William B. Macomber Jr. said today that the State Department supported freedom of transit in the Suez Canal and would avail itself of opportunities to advance its views in the World Bank which is considering a loan to the United Arab Republic to widen the waterway.

Mr. Macomber replied for Secretary of State Herter to Rep. Seymour Halpern, New York Republican, who had protested the granting of a World Bank loan to the UAR as long as it continued to deny Israel use of the canal.

(The possibility of putting a Suez Canal item on the agenda of the General Assembly was believed to have been discussed today when members of the Israel delegation to the United Nations conferred with Secretary General Hammarskjold and his ranking aides.)

“The Government of the United States,” Mr. Macomber said, “firmly supports the principle of freedom of transit through the Suez Canal as an international waterway. You may be assured that whenever occasion permits we continue to avail ourselves of opportunities for setting forth our views in this regard in various appropriate international agencies, including the World Bank.”

Mr. Macomber said, “we continue to hope that, aided by the counsel of the United Nations and of other friendly countries, including the United States, progress toward a solution to the problem of the present restrictions on transit of the canal can be achieved.”

Rep. Halpern had expressed hope in his letter to Secretary Herter that the Department would advise the bank of its concern over Suez transit “and the serious implications surrounding a loan by the international community for improvement of the waterway when it is consistently being operated in violation of international decision and principles.”

The Washington Post and Times Herald warned editorially today that failure to resolve the Suez Canal dispute “is altogether likely to lead to some kind of retaliation and possibly war.” It questioned the advisability of extending further economic aid to the United Arab Republic without conditioning this aid on freedom of the canal.

The paper said that “after allowing some 40 foreign ships with cargoes bound to and from Israel to pass through the Suez Canal, this Spring the UAR suddenly began halting the vessels and seizing the shipments; recently it also has interfered with mail to Israel. The impediment to Israeli commerce has become a hotly debated issue in Jerusalem; and unless it is resolved soon, it is altogether likely to lead to some kind of retaliation and possibly war.”

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