The Suez Canal, maritime short-cut from Asia to Europe, re-opened on Thursday (5 June), exactly eight years after the start of the 1967 Middle East war.
AV Ships in canal
AV Port Said
AV Ships on canal
AV Suez Canal building
SV AND CU Sadat meeting officers PAN TO General Gamassi (2 shots) (SILENT)
GV TILT DOWN Ceremony in progress
SV AND CU Sadat speaking (2 shots)
SV Sadat signs documents
Initials CL/0100 CL/0116
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Background: The Suez Canal, maritime short-cut from Asia to Europe, re-opened on Thursday (5 June), exactly eight years after the start of the 1967 Middle East war.
Cleared of 40,000 mines and explosives, the 100-mile (160 km) long waterway was re-opened by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat amid fanfare, sirens, a 21-gun salute and cheering crowds lining the canal banks.
The first convoy of foreign ships then passed through the canal. The Kuwaiti vessel Ibn hayyan was the first to pass southwards, followed by Russian, Greek, Chinese and Yogoslav ships.
The world's press almost missed the opening ceremony and the Egyptian Information Minister narrowly avoided being in scuffles between newsmen and security forces trying to bar the press. News coverage was permitted at the last minute.
While the canal faces an uncertain economic future, its re-opening reduced the possibility of another Egyptian-Israeli war by placing international shipping between the main armies of the two countries.
Israel thinned out its forces on the waterway's East Bank before the re-opening. President Sadat hailed this decision as a very import act.
But the Egyptian leader did not comment on the question whether Israeli cargo would be allowed through the canal.
Port Said, which became a ghost town as most of its 250,000 inhabitants fled during the wars of 1967 and 1973, has been rebuilt and is looking to a booming economic future as a free trade zone at the Canal's northern entrance.
It will be several months before the canal is operating at full capacity. The canal will be only able to handle one convoy a day to start with, instead of three.
Toll rates will be virtually double what they were eight years ago and the insurance rates will probably be high because of war risks.
But Egypt estimates that in the first year the canal will earn 450 million dollars. President Sadat signed a document transferring control of the waterway from military to civilian authorities.