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France, Sweden, Australia Back Israel on Suez Issue Atu. N. Assembly

The Foreign Ministers of France, Sweden and Australia voiced firm support today for Israel’s grievance against the United Arab Republic’s Suez Canal blockade. All three made their positions clear in addresses before a plenary session of the General Assembly.

Maurice Couve de Murville, Foreign Minister of France, told the Assembly that, while France was gratified with the relatively stable situation in the Middle East currently, the Paris Government was concerned about the Suez Canal situation. “Certainly all the problems in the Middle East are far from being solved,” he said. “This is evidenced by the renewed difficulties concerning free transit through the Suez Canal for Israel cargoes. The Constantinople Convention of 1888, reaffirmed by the United Nations, remains for us the charter in this matter.”

Osten Unden, Foreign Minister of Sweden, brought in the Suez Canal issue in the context of the refusal of some members of the United Nations to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice at the Hague. The Stockholm statesman said that the question of the Court’s jurisdiction “leads to the question whether the controversy of many years’ standing between Israel and Egypt, now the United Arab Republic, concerning the free passage through the Suez Canal, could not be brought to a solution by having recourse to the International Court.

Mr. Unden declared that as far as he could see, “this problem, in its essence, is hardly a question of juridical subtleties. Instead,” he said, “the question really is whether it could be considered reasonable that two members of the United Nations for years find themselves in a warlike relationship. If there is a war, it should be the duty of the states involved to make peace.

“This is simple common sense, so much more so because the blockade cannot be of any practical value for the United Arab Republic while it does harm the shipping interests of many other countries,” the Swedish Foreign Minister continued. “Sweden too is suffering from the blockade. In evidence of this, I should like to mention that the Swedish Seamen’s Union have requested their Government to work for the cessation of the blockade.

Richard G. Casey, Australian Minister for External Affairs, said the Suez issue “is of great concern to a large number of countries at both ends of the Canal–European and Asian as well as others, such as Australia and the Americas–who need to use this important waterway for their international trade. I do not intend to go over any of the incidents that have occurred during the past year, mostly related to Israel, but in view of these I wish to record again that we believe in free passage through the canal for all countries without exception.”

Dr. Raphael Urquia, chairman of the delegation of El Salvador, also voiced a plea for Arab-Israel peace. After mentioning El Salvador’s devotion to the principle of freedom of navigation, Dr. Urquia asked the Assembly: “Is it impossible to find a solution to the problems which for so many years, have divided Israel and the Arab states?”

The Latin American delegate went on to assert: “To admit impossibility would be to deny the efficiency and the vigor of the United Nations Organization, as well as the sense of responsibility and devotion to progress which characterize the Arab and Israeli leaders.”

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