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883.7962/7–1144 : Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Tuck) to the Secretary of State

CAIRO, July 11, 1944—6 p. m.

[Received July 12–10:48 p. m.] 1969. After some effort I obtained from the Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs an aide-mémoire dated July 11, regarding Almaza Airport in reply to mine referred to in telegram No. 1840, June 29, 8 p.m. The text is being sent in the telegram immediately following.

This matter was also discussed informally between our Commercial Attaché 5 and the British Commercial Counselor who promised to supply what information he could. After a delay of 2 weeks the latter read over the telephone a brief prepared statement of which the text also is given in the telegram following.

Further information is being assembled and will be reported in due course.


883.7962/7–1244 : Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Tuck) to the Secretary of State

CAIRO, July 12, 1944–6 p. m.

[Received July 12–5:53 p. m.] 1970. Translation of the aide-mémoire of July 11 6 on Almaza Airport follows:

The present needs of military aviation have led the British military authorities to envisage the creation of a new airport near Cairo equipped with installations and apparatus appropriate to answer these needs. They have discussed it with the Egyptian Government which was planning at the same time the enlargement of Almaza Airport to meet the needs of civil aviation after the war; but this enlargement encountered current difficulties in procuring the necessary material.

In the desire to harmonize the Egyptian interest in the preparation of the airport for the purpose mentioned with the present needs of military aviation, preliminary talks have taken place on the following basis: The new installations with which the airport will be equipped are divided into two categories:

(a) The first will answer the needs of civil aviation:

The Egyptian [Government?] will be responsible for necessary expenses in the execution of work in this category; the expected time is set at 18 months. The necessary material for this work will be furnished at a reduced price by the RAF which has graciously agreed to undertake the transport of this material and other facilities.

[blocks in formation]

(6) The second category will answer the needs of military aviation:

The necessary expenses in the accomplishment of this category will be borne by the RAF. The fixed installations will be transferred to the Egyptian Government without obligation.

The RAF will be subjected to payment of landing fees for its plans [planes] at the airport and will pay rent for the buildings

and installations which shelter them. It follows from the preceding that the question has not arisen in these discussions as to the methods of using the new installations of the Almaza Airport for civil aviation.

At this time it is appropriate to point out that in a note presented to the Department of State Egyptian Government has made it known that it was convinced that it would be invited to participate in all general conferences which might be called to examine questions relative to civil aviation and to international aerial communications after the war. The Egyptian Government wishes to emphasize that in expressing this belief it was inspired by the greatest spirit of international cooperation on the basis of equality of rights.

Furthermore, animated by the same spirit of cooperation and by the excellent relations of friendliness and confidence which so happily exist between Egypt and the great American democracy, the Egyptian Government would be disposed to take up again at an opportune time the examination of this question with the American Government, it being understood that this does not prejudice the question and that from now on all idea of utilization of the airport by non-Egyptian planes on the same basis of equality as Egyptian planes must be dismissed.

The British statement follows:

Discussions are being held with the Egyptian Government regarding the development of facilities at Almaza Airport with a view to the use of the latter by RAF transport aircraft in preference to Cairo West [Airport], which for obvious reasons has proved unsuitable for this purpose.



The Minister in Egypt (Tuck) to the Secretary of State No. 140

CAIRO, August 9, 1944.

[Received August 18.] SIR: [Here follows an account of events relating to Almaza Airdrome covered in the preceding telegrams.]

John Payne Field was developed by the USAAF 8 in 1943 for the use of the ATC. It is located on comparatively high ground about


? Dated May 4; see vol. II, section entitled "Preliminary and exploratory discussions regarding international civil aviation; conference held at Chicago, November 1-December 7, 1944."

* United States Army Air Forces. 'Air Transport Command.

13 miles east of the center of Cairo and has been described as the best airport in Africa. The land on which it is located was acquired from the RAF,10 which had obtained possession of it under AngloEgyptian treaty terms.11 Actually the land is understood to belong in part to the Egyptian Government and in part to the Heliopolis Company. It is said that the owners have no official knowledge of the fact that an airport has been constructed on their land. On this property the United States will have expended the following sums in construction work:

Original investment

$1,556, 000 Additions to April 23, 1944 285,000 Estimated present program

811, 000

Total $2,652,000 Only about 10 percent of the costs to date represent reciprocal aid from the British, and it is assumed that substantially the same percentage will apply to the entire cost when completed. Payne Field has two runways of 7,000 feet each, as already mentioned, in addition to one of 6,000 feet. It is said to be possible to extend at least one of these to 9,000 feet if necessary, but the present runways have proved adequate for the use of the new B-29 Super Fortresses.12

In conclusion it may be noted that the British are actively developing a large airport 13 which already serves all of the civilian airlines operating through Cairo. Moreover, this is being done largely at the expense of the Egyptian Government. Payne Field, however, handles no civilian services, is being developed entirely at American expense and is located on land which it may well be necessary to vacate at the end of the war. The desirability of an early agreement with the Egyptian Government on this point seems obvious, perhaps along the lines of that recently concluded with Iceland 14 and in connection with the Lend-Lease Agreement now being negotiated with Egypt.15 Respectfully yours,



10 Royal Air Force.

11 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, signed at London, August 26, 1936, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. CLXXIII, p. 401.

The Minister in Egypt furnished further and detailed technical information on Payne Field in his despatch No. 218, September 9, 1944 (893.248/9-944). 13 The Almaza Airport.

* In a memorandum of August 29, John 0. Bell of the Aviation Division wrote that so far as he knew “there has been no recent agreement with Iceland with respect to airports ... (883.7962/8-944).

For correspondence relating to Lend-Lease negotiations with Egypt in 1944, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iv, bracketed note on p. 65.

883.248/9-444 Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle) to the Chief of the Aviation Division (Morgan)

WASHINGTON, September 26, 1944. MR. MORGAN: Your memorandum of September 25 regarding Payne Field. I agree that it was not a propitious time to start negotiating. Instead, I think we should send a courteous note to the British Government saying that we do expect to bring up rights to a number of bases, naming them, with particular emphasis on the Near Eastern bases including Payne Field. This, I think, is a polite indication that we do not feel we want to be quietly excluded from those rights. In handing such note to the British Embassy, you might say orally that we do not, of course, expect to press negotiations until after the conference.

I believe it will be wise to have an exactly similar note to the Egyptian Government, which should be handed them at the same time as our note to the British. My idea is not to start negotiations but to stake out a claim.



The Secretary of State to the Egyptian Minister (Hassan) 18

WASHINGTON, October 19, 1944. SIR: As I am sure you are already aware, the United States Government in connection with the prosecution of the war and to expedite the delivery of supplies and lend-lease material to our allies has constructed or improved in whole or in part a large number of airports in various countries including countries in the Near and Middle East as, for example, Payne Field at Cairo. While there appears to be no question with respect to the right of United States military aircraft and aircraft of United States Air Transport Command to use these airports at the present time, in the absence of any clear understanding a question may arise at a later date with respect to the right of United States civil aircraft to use these airports when the time comes for the establishment of commercial services through these regions.

10 Handed on October 20 to a representative of the Egyptian Legation by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Kohler), with oral remarks stating that a “similar” note was being delivered to the British, and that this Government did not expect to press negotiations until after the Chicago International Civil Aviation Conference; for note to the British Ambassador (Halifax), October 19, and British aide-mémoire of October 30 in reply, see pp. 490 and 491, respectively. Copies of the notes to the Egyptian and British Governments were forwarded to the Minister in Egypt under instruction No. 1001, October 19, with the statement that the notes set forth “the position of this Government with respect to the use of airports which it has helped to construct or improve. It is contemplated that discussions with respect to these matters will be undertaken during or shortly after the forthcoming International Civil Aviation Conference although they do not form a part of the agenda for that meeting." (883.248/9-444)

This Government considers that airports which it has helped to construct or improve should be available for the use of United States commercial aircraft on international services or civil aircraft conducting private flights as may be authorized by the countries in whose jurisdiction these airports lie. No infringement of sovereignty is involved; nor does the Government of the United States seek ownership, control or exclusive rights.

The receipt at an early date of a statement of your Government's attitude in this matter would be greatly appreciated.17 Accept [etc.]





Memorandum by Mr. Merrill C. Gay of the Division of Commercial

Treaties and Agreements

[WASHINGTON,] February 28, 1944. The Department received despatch No. 1272 dated September 4, 1943 18 from Cairo describing a pipe line approximately 78 miles long between the main storage tanks of the Shell Company of Egypt, Suez to the Ghamer terminal of that company in Cairo, reported to have begun operations in September 1943. The pipe used in this construction is described by our Legation as American made provided under Lend-Lease for use by the British army in Libya. Such a pipe line was originally projected in 1927 but construction did not begin until April 1943. It was done as a war measure recommended by the Cairo Petroleum Committee of the Middle East War Council and approved by the War Office in London. The financial arrangements for building the pipe line were made by the Cairo Petroleum Committee, under the jurisdiction of the British Minister of State,1 and the Shell Company. The Chairman of the Committee was for


17 In a note of October 20, 1944, the Egyptian Minister acknowledged receipt of the Secretary's note (883.7962/10-2044). 18 Not printed.

Richard G. Casey.


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