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Tuesday, 9 October 1956

Mr CASEY (Minister for External Affairs) - As I had the opportunity to inform the right honorable gentleman in the House on a recent occasion, the Security Council last week accepted the resolution moved in the joint names of the United Kingdom and France and also the resolution moved by Egypt. The Council met again on Friday, 5th October, to begin the discussion on the substance as apart from the procedural side of the matter. The Council accepted without objection a Yugoslav proposal to postpone a decision on the requests of Israel and the Arab States to be allowed to appear. Pursuant to an earlier decision of the Council, Egypt took its place at the Security Council table. That was last Friday, 5th October. Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, opened the debate and tabled a joint United KingdomFrench resolution. He said that the United Kingdom case rested, first, upon a determination to uphold rights, properly secured and guaranteed, to free transit through an international waterway; and secondly, upon a determination to seek a peaceful solution by negotiation, the draft resolution providing a basis for negotiation that was just to both the canal users and to Egypt.

Subsequently, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd proposed that after the general debate in the Security Council had finished the Council .might go into closed session. The operative paragraphs of the British-French resolution call on the Security Council: To reaffirm the principle of freedom of navigation of the canal as laid down in the 1888 Convention; to endorse the eighteen-Power proposals as suitably designed to bring about a solution of the question by peaceful means and in conformity with justice; to recommend that the Egyptian Government should co-operate in negotiating, on the basis of the eighteenPower proposals, a system of operation to be applied to the canal and should, meanwhile, co-operate with the Canal Users Association. M. Pineau, the French Foreign Minister, supported Mr. Selwyn Lloyd. Mr. Dulles also made a brief statement in which he said that the United States of America adhered to the position it had adopted at the first London conference, and would vote for the British-French resolution. He also welcomed the proposal for a closed session of the council. Egypt opposed the draft British-French resolution. Dr. Fawzi, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, suggested, as an alternative, the establishment of a negotiating committee. Mr. Shepilov, the Soviet Russian Foreign Minister, also opposed the British -French joint resolution and also suggested the establishment of a negotiating committee to draft a new treaty granting freedom of passage through the canal. That is the present stage. The situation at the moment is inconclusive and indeterminate. The general debate in the Security Council is going on and, presumably, will go on for the next one or two days, or, at the outside, for the next three days. Then there will be a closed session, lt is expected - of course, this is only speculation - that the proceedings before the Security Council will finish at the end of this week or, possibly, at the beginning of next week. The House will see that a proposal has been put forward for negotiation on British-French terms - that is, on the basis of the eighteen-power resolution - and that Egypt, supported by Soviet Russia, has proposed the creation of a negotiating committee.

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