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15 October 2014
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Timeline - 1939-1945

Fact File : Cairo Conference

23 to 26 November, and 3 to 7 December 1943

Location: Cairo, Egypt
Players: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Chiang Kai-shek (President of the Republic of China).
Outcome: Confirmation of Allied strategy against Japan.

China's Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek; US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, seated together on the lawn during the historic Cairo conference
China's Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek; US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, seated together on the lawn during the historic Cairo conference©
The Cairo conference took part in two phases - the first one from 23 to 26 November 1943, the second phase from 3 to 7 December. During the break in the middle, delegates attended the Teheran Conference (codenamed Eureka), which considerably influenced the second part of the discussions in Cairo.

The conference was attended by Churchill and Roosevelt, each man accompanied by a large delegation, including a British delegation led by Admiral Lord Mountbatten, who had recently been appointed supreme commander of SEAC (South East Asia Command). Stalin refused to attend, or even to send a representative.

Discussions during the first phase centred on China's request for the Allies to launch amphibious operations in the Bay of Bengal, to coincide with its intervention in the Burma campaign. The Japanese had blocked the Burma Road, the only remaining supply route into China. The Japanese also saw Burma as a way into India; so the situation was serious.

Churchill was not impressed by the progress of the conference and the British and Americans were at odds. In the end, Roosevelt promised an amphibious attack - but he was unable to keep his promise because of agreements made in the interim at the Teheran Conference, which focused on the 1944 landings on France's Normandy coast (Operation Overlord).

Nonetheless, the Cairo Declaration was made, agreeing that all three powers had confirmed their strategy against Japan. Japan should be stripped of all the territories acquired since the beginning of the World War One (1914), and any land taken from China should be returned. Korea should be liberated 'in due course'.

The fact files in this timeline were commissioned by the BBC in June 2003 and September 2005. Find out more about the authors who wrote them.


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