U.S. Insists on Freedom of Passage Through Suez at U.N. Assembly
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U.S. Insists on Freedom of Passage Through Suez at U.N. Assembly

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The United States and Britain went on record here today as unequivocally supporting the principle of freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal, in addresses delivered by U. S. Secretary of State Christian A. Herter and Britain’s Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd before the U. N. General Assembly.

Making his first appearance before the General Assembly as the American representative in the “general debate,” Secretary Herter emphasized the situation in the Middle East near the start of a statement of the United States position regarding the major issues before the current General Assembly.

Pointing out that “relative quiet” prevailed in the Middle East–“in sharp contrast to the crisis of a year ago, when the Assembly had to take emergency measures, ” he said: “The enlightened actions of the states in the area during the past year have helped to improve the situation. The agencies of the United Nations and the outstanding leadership and diplomacy of the Secretary General have also contributed significantly to the lessening of tensions and the development of greater stability.

“We regard these trends as a hopeful portent that further progress can be made on the problems which still confront this area, ” he continued. “The future welfare of the Palestine refugees is one such problem. It will be an important item for consideration at this Assembly. Progress toward a satisfactory solution of this tragic problem is important not only to the human beings directly involved but also to continued stability in the area as a whole.”

Taking up the Suez Canal issue, which is not on the Assembly agenda but which is nevertheless being discussed here vigorously, Mr. Herter declared:

“Another problem in this area has arisen with regard to passage through the Suez Canal. The United States continues to support the principle of freedom of passage, as endorsed by the United Nations. We are confident that, if those immediately concerned seek to reconcile their differences in a spirit of mutual accommodation, progress can be made toward a solution.”


Mr. Lloyd called before the Assembly for “free passage of the ships of all nations” through the Suez Canal. He also expressed “complete confidence” in Secretary General Dag Hammarskjod’s efforts at conciliating conflicts in the Middle East, expressing “full support” of Mr. Hammarskjold’s attempts in that direction.

The British Foreign Secretary touched off his discussion of the Middle East situation by referring to the Ten Power Arab resolution adopted at a special emergency session of the Assembly in August 1958 dealing with the Middle East. He recalled that his delegation voted in favor of the 1958 Arab resolution because Britain felt it aimed at “harmony” in the Middle East or “at least a reasonable working relationship.”

“In this connection,” he continued, “to mention a somewhat controversial topic, I hope the use of the Suez Canal will form a bond to further, and not a barrier to obstruct, the peaceful trade of all the countries of the area. I have made clear on past occasions the support of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom for the principle of free passage of the ships of all nations through the Suez Canal – a principle which was embodied in the 1888 Convention and which has been adopted by the United Nations as its declared purpose.

“The very fact that the United Nations has not, as a rule, been able to take speedy action to deal with particular crises, has led to these new methods and new techniques being developed. The Secretary General has spoken of the United Nations serving a diplomacy of reconciliation, of mediation, and conciliation. The United Nations representatives in the Middle East have quietly, unobtrusively and successfully sought to operate such diplomacy.

“We are filled with admiration for the work which the Secretary General himself does, his journeys and his untiring efforts to find ways to iron out differences and to harmonize the relations between states. We have complete confidence in him and his work. He has our full support. ” Mr. Lloyd, like Mr. Herter earlier, endorsed the principle of a standby United Nations peace force.

Dr. Diogenes Taboada, Argentina’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, also touched upon the “conflict” regarding freedom of shipping through the Suez Canal. In his address to the Assembly, Mr. Taboada pleaded for freedom of navigation of the seas and international waterways, “since this principle is a common heritage of all mankind.”

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