Shipment of Soviet Arms to Arab Countries: Remarks by the Secretary of State at News Conference, October 4, 1955 (Excerpts) (1)

Q. Mr. Secretary, can you give its any information you might have about Mr. Allen's (2) progress in talks with Nasser (3) in Cairo?

A. He has had a very good talk, indeed two rather full talks, from which I think he has gained an insight as to the Egyptian motives in this matter, and I think that Colonel Nasser has gained an insight as to our attitude toward the matter. There is better understanding than there was before. I think in substance that is the result of his trip and that was the purpose of his trip.

. . . . . . .

Q. Mr. Secretary, further in that connection, could you tell us whether our attitude toward the proposed contract arrangement has changed any since Mr. Allen completed his talks with Colonel Nasser'

A. I had prepared a little statement which perhaps I will read to you, because I anticipated questions on this topic.

At my press conference the last of August (August 30) (4) I was asked about possible Soviet-bloc shipments of arms to Arab countries. I made two observations. The first was that the Arab countries were independent governments and free to do whatever they wished in the matter. My second observation was that, from the standpoint of U.S. relations with the Soviet Union, such delivery of arms would not contribute to relaxing tensions.

Those two observations stand today. I might add this:

It is difficult to be critical of countries which, feeling themselves endangered, seek the arms which they sincerely believe they need for defense. On the other hand, I doubt very much that, under the conditions which prevail in the area, it is possible for any country to get security through an arms race. Also it is not easy or pleasant to speculate on the probable motives of the Soviet-bloc leaders.

In my talk about this matter of August 26,(5) I spoke of the fear which dominated the area and said that I felt that it could be dissipated only by collective measures designed to deter aggression by anyone. I proposed a security guaranty sponsored by the United Nations. That, I said, would relieve the acute fears which both sides now profess.

It is still my hope that such a solution may be found.

Q. Mr. Secretary, if I may ask one other question, there have been reports that the United States might provide arms to Israel to balance any arms shipments from the Soviet bloc to Egypt. Can you tell us whether this is a likely prospect or not?

A. No, I could not say whether it would be a likely prospect or not. As I say, in the first place we do not know what amount or character of arms may be involved in the Egyptian-Soviet bloc deal and to what extent, if any, it may seriously upset the balance of power in the area. It has in the main been the policy of the United States as was set out in the joint statement which the British Foreign Secretary and I issued in New York last week, to avoid participating in what might become an arms race, and we still hope it will be possible to avoid getting into that situation.

. . . . . . .

(1) Department of State Bulletin, Oct. 17, 1955, p. 604. Back

(2) George V. Allen, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs. Back

(3) Gamel Abdel Nasser, Prime Minister of Egypt. Back

(4) Department of State Bulletin, Sept. 12, 1955, p. 421. Back

(5) Supra, pp. 2176-2180. Back

American Foreign Policy 1950-1955
Basic Documents Volumes I and II
Department of State Publication 6446
General Foreign Policy Series 117
Washington, DC : U.S. Governemnt Printing Office, 1957

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.