Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 139

No. 381
United States Delegation Minutes of the Second Meeting of Secretary of State Dulles and Foreign Secretary Eden at the Department of State, March 6, 1953, 10:15 a.m.1
top secret


  • U.S.

    • Secretary Dulles
    • Ambassador Aldrich
    • General Smith
    • Mr. Matthews
    • Mr. MacArthur
    • Mr. Byroade
    • Mr. Bonbright
    • Mr. O’Connor
    • Mr. Raynor
  • U.K.

    • Foreign Secretary Eden
    • Ambassador Makins
    • Sir Pierson Dixon, Foreign Office
    • Sir Christopher Steel, Embassy
    • Mr. Shuckburgh, Foreign Office
    • Mr. Bailey, Embassy
    • Mr. Henderson, Embassy

[Here follows a list of the subjects discussed.]

Political Warfare

Mr. Eden stated that it was his understanding that we were developing a new setup to handle political warfare and wondered if we desired to discuss the matter.

The Secretary replied that this was a matter which was still being studied and that a new setup had not yet been put into operation.

[Page 908]


Mr. Eden opened the discussion by remarking that he had noted that the U.S. press had stated that the U.S. had been able to bring about a settlement between the U.K. and Egypt on the Sudan which encouraged him to hope that a similar result might be achieved on the defense question. He referred to the “BowkerByroade” paper outlining the five-point package and agreed notes on tactics.2 He said that he had, since arriving in Washington, received a telegram stating that his government was prepared to go ahead on negotiations and very much desired the help of the U.S. in these negotiations. He cited the appointment of Field Marshal Slim, stating that the British Ambassador to Egypt had first requested this and that Her Majesty’s Government had felt it to be a good idea in order to have a soldier, Slim, dealing with a soldier, Naguib. Mr. Eden added that the Prime Minister felt we should get at this as quickly as possible because at the moment the Egyptians were relatively quiet and also because the Australians were being somewhat difficult over the delay in the arrival of Slim in Australia.

The Foreign Secretary asked if we could provide a good soldier on our side so that the team negotiating in Cairo would be balanced by having two diplomats and two soldiers. Mr. Eden expressed the view that if we started promptly he did not see why the negotiations should consume too much time. He said there was much in the proposals which Nagiub would like and very little which would be liked by the British House of Commons.

The Secretary commended Mr. Eden for the excellent job which had been done on the Sudan which he hoped and believed would pay dividends. He stated that he felt it was a good idea for Slim to go out right away in order that the momentum engendered by the successful Sudan negotiations could be capitalized upon. Contrarywise, if there are delays we might lose the benefit of this momentum and incidents might take place which would injure the atmosphere.

The Secretary said that while the U.S. had not envisaged the participation in these talks of a U.S. military figure that we were open-minded on this point. The Secretary suggested that this be discussed in the later meeting with the President.3 The Secretary [Page 909]stated that he was in general agreement with the paper which had been produced by his predecessor in office. He then referred to the comment in the letter the President had received from Prime Minister Churchill to the effect that the British were only willing to go as far as case “A” in the paper.4

Mr. Eden confirmed that case “A” was as far as the British were willing to go. He said the Cabinet felt cases “B” and “C” do not meet the needs of avoiding a vacuum in the defense of the Middle East, vacuum which he said would expose the West to blackmail (which he did not in this context define). He emphasized that he felt the Cabinet would be unwilling to go much below case “A” and that he was unable to commit the British as to what their position would be on “B” or “C” should the Egyptians say no to “A”.5

The Secretary indicated that this appeared to be a substantial change on the part of the British subsequent to the talks in January and inquired as to the reasons for such a change of position.

Mr. Byroade reiterated that there seemed to be a considerable shift from the British position during the London talks. He said that both of us definitely preferred and wanted “A” and that no one, including our Joint Chiefs of Staff, likes “C” but he added both sides in London had appeared to agree that “A” could not be attained and that, therefore, a compromise from this position would be necessary.

Mr. Eden injected that the Cabinet had never taken a decision of the type just described.

Mr. Byroade replied that he had meant that there had been such an agreement on the working level during the talks in London.

Mr. Eden stated that he did not mean to imply that minor adjustments in “A” could not be made. On the other hand, he also could not say that the British could accept case “B”. He added that all plans for the defense of the Middle East rested on the Egyptian base, that it is the only base which exists in the area and the risk of its not being in operative condition was too great a risk to take.

Mr. Byroade expressed the view that paragraph 15(d) on page 4 of the paper expressed the general sense of the talks in London.

Mr. Eden inquired if the U.S. position was that we were willing to see a situation where we would be without a base in the Middle East. He added that this was not what he had understood from his discussion with the President.6

[Page 910]

The Secretary replied that our position was that we wanted a base if it was possible to get one. He said that the State Department and the President had approved the London paper feeling that this paper provided the flexibility which it might be necessary to have. Mr. Dulles added that it would be necessary for us to re-study with our military this entire question before we could agree to associate ourselves in the endeavor if it were to be restricted to case “A”. He would have no objection to the British trying case “A” and we would help on this if we could. But, he felt we could not be totally indentified with case “A” only without further study of the matter. On the other hand, if the British were prepared to follow the proposals as outlined in the paper he would be able to agree today to go all the way on this with the British.

Mr. Eden said that frankly he didn’t want to see this degenerate into another Persian situation. In other words, he did not want to see us giving more and more and more, ending up with no base at all.

The Secretary replied that while this might be right it would require additonal study on our part and that he could not give an answer on this proposal in a matter of a few hours.

Mr. Eden made the suggestion at this point that we go all out together on “A” and if this should prove unsuccessful that we then consult as to what to do next.

The Under Secretary said as logical as this might sound, if it was followed and “A” was rejected as he thought it would be, we would have a situation resembling the Persian situation in that we would be constantly pressing the British to come up with something more and that this would create an unhappy situation between us.

Mr. Byroade commented that this had been reviewed with our Joint Chiefs of Staff who felt we should get something as close to “A” as we could. He said the Chiefs do not like “C” but believe it should be taken if that is all which can be obtained.

Mr. Eden pointed out that “C” means no base.

The Secretary stated that he felt the wisest procedure would be to get what we could at this time because later on we might not be able to get as much as we can get now. He thought the negotiators should be given authority to make the best possible deal which can be made at this time and as rapidly as possible. Six months from now we probably would be unable to get what we could get today.

Mr. Eden interjected to say that under case “C” the base would be abandoned and we would have to trust the Egyptians to maintain it. He questioned the ability of the Egyptians to do this.

The Under Secretary said that, of course, it would take time under this case to reactivate the base but that our military attached considerable importance to the Libyan air bases. He added [Page 911]that while the situation would admittedly be bad he felt it would not be irretrievable.

Mr. Byroade said that he had personally felt that we might be able to come out a little better than case “B”. He added that the theory of cases “B” and “C” was to train the Egyptians to take over as much as they could.

The Under Secretary said that we would hate to have to go below “B” but that he felt we should attempt to reach agreement to accept “B” if necessary.

The Secretary said he thought it was somewhat unrealistic to divide the matter into set formulae as there would be infinite gradations. He felt that striking out all of the proposals except “A” would inject an undue amount of rigidity as whatever final solution might be arranged almost certainly would not be precisely “A”, “B” or “C”. He felt the negotiators should work out the best deal obtainable. He would hate to see the matter left on “A” or nothing. He felt many arrangements would be better than nothing.

Mr. Eden said this was not the U.K. view. He said they were not prepared to give up everything they had which was based on treaty rights for an unsatisfactory base arrangement. There would be no satisfaction to them in thus being humiliated.

The Under Secretary again referred to his hope that we would avoid a situation where we have to keep pressing the British with the resulting irritations of such a procedure.

The Secretary said he was apprehensive of missing the opportunity of making a deal and that if this happens the situation might deteriorate.

Mr. Eden said that he was worried about case “A” being “frittered away”, giving Naguib a triumph on a basis which he could not possibly get approved in the House of Commons. He added that the British would much rather stay in the Canal on the present basis.

Mr. Byroade said that much would depend on the tactics employed and did not feel that we should put up case “A” specifically or, indeed, any specific plan but should discuss the problems involved and the functions which needed to be carried out by someone frankly with Naguib. He had felt that if this were done in the end we might come out fairly well provided the negotiators possessed sufficient flexibility.

Mr. Eden said that there were points as to case “A” which London could concede. He said, for instance, that he felt the number of men listed under case “A” might well be too many.

Sir Pierson Dixon said he wondered if the approach in the paper where an attempt had been made to formulate successive steps was the best way to go about the problem. He wondered whether it was [Page 912]not better to agree upon a preferred objective, try to get it and if unsuccessful then to consult on the next step.

Mr. Eden asked if we could not reach agreement to go all out together to get case “A” with the U.S. sending out a soldier to participate in the negotiations with Slim, with the U.S. making it clear to London that for its part it could not exclude “B” but would exclude “C”.

Sir Pierson Dixon added the suggestion that this be phrased something between “A” and “B” rather than “B” as to the U.S. position.

Mr. Eden said that he would be willing to try out a formula of this type in London although he would have a “devil of a time with it”.

Following additional discussion of this point the British side drafted a formulation along the above line which was taken to the meeting at the White House for further discussion (see Tab A for this formulation7).

There was some discussion at this point as to whether a U.S. military representative could reach Cairo in time for the opening of the talks and Mr. Eden expressed the view strongly that a U.S. military representative should participate from the beginning.

The Secretary asked what consideration had come up which had caused the British to exclude the possibility of case “C”.

Mr. Byroade pointed out that there had not been much difficulty on this point during the London talks and that case “C” had been included in the original Foreign Office memorandum. He said that there had appeared to be full agreement at his level that no case at all was worse than “C”.

Mr. Eden replied that the London paper had not been approved by Governments. He said the British Chiefs had all along believed that something approaching “A” was required. He reiterated that the British would prefer to stay on in the Canal on the present basis than to accept “C”. He said we should realize that this was the hardest kind of an issue for the United Kingdom Government and naturally one which had to be decided at the governmental level. He said thousands of Britishers had been in Egypt, fought in the desert, etc., and that any kind of concession would be accompanied by all of the well-known charges of scuttling, etc.

Mr. Matthews commented that he believed our Chiefs were even less keen than the United Kingdom Chiefs had been as to case “C”.

[Page 913]

Sir Pierson Dixon stated that the more the British military examined case “C” the less they liked it. In addition, he said that case “C” would be politically impossible in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Eden confirmed Mr. Dixon’s statement and said that while adornments to case “A” were possible the British wanted to keep a base.

The Secretary said there was one further aspect of this problem which he wanted to raise as he noted the absence in the paper of any references to peace between the Arab states and Israel. He said there was strong pressure on us to maintain Israel’s strength and that without peace the United States might find itself in a position of financing an arms race between these two groups. He added that he felt that the Israeli today possessed a greater military potential than the Arabs. He said in his view once agreement could be reached on the first stages of the package with Egypt that the time might be ripe for beginning to bring about peace between the Arabs and Israel. The agreement might place Naguib in a strong enough position to open this up.

Mr. Eden expressed the view that he thought Mr. Dulles’ evaluation as to timing was about right. He thought the matter could possibly be brought into the Egyptian talks at the proper point. He said Iraq would want to come in on this. He said that the United Kingdom was as keen as the United States to see something done on this matter. He thought the problem of the Arab refugees was very importantly tied in and that any progress which could be made on this in the interim would enhance the chances of peace.

The Secretary said he understood that the refugee problem was not a question of money and that monies already authorized could not be spent. He said as far as he could see, the Arabs seem to desire to keep this issue alive as a monument to the “monstrosity of Israel”.

Mr. Eden said he didn’t know if it was practical but if Israel could offer to afford compensation on an individual basis he thought such a step might materially improve the atmosphere. He said he did not mean to suggest that this could or should be done on a large scale.

The Secretary said, of course, the money for this would probably have to come from the United States and he doubted if the plan would be feasible except as a part of a final settlement.

Mr. Byroade added that this had been the Israeli position but he thought they had moved somewhat from it recently. In answer to a British inquiry, Mr. Byroade said that as a very rough estimate he would guess that the face value of compensation claims totaled somewhere between $500 and $800 million. Mr. Byroade added that a good many considerations were tied into the settlement but that [Page 914]he was hopeful that Naguib would be willing to start on this if progress could be made on the base question. He said in the process a hard attitude on certain points would probably have to be taken with Israel in Israel’s own interest. For instance, he said he thought Israel would have to give up some, although not much, territory. He thought she would have to do something on the blocked accounts.

The Secretary said he thought it was clear that there was common understanding between us that peace between Israel and the Arab states is an essential component of this whole problem and that we should feel free to raise this as an active issue as soon as the atmosphere makes it feasible.

Mr. Eden expressed agreement and added that he felt we should do what we can in the meantime on resettlement.

The Secretary then referred to page 10 of the paper and said that the new Administration did not feel itself fully committed to the present MEDO plan in the textual form contained in the paper pending an opportunity for further and careful study of it. He said he might have suggestions for improvement. He said, for instance with respect to Israel, he questioned whether the Arab states should have a veto power over the admittance of Israel at some later date which the present language possibly gives them.

Mr. Eden said this raised two difficulties. The first was that this proposal was a part of the package and might have to be referred to at an early stage in the negotiations and that Naguib at such a time might request details. The second point was that any reference to Israel at this stage would probably result in the Arabs saying “no”. He expressed the view that drafting could be worked out to cover the question of Israeli admittance.

Mr. Byroade added that the intention of the paper was to express a general understanding and that we had never thought a paper in such an exact form should be handed to the Egyptians. It would be better to talk first with Naguib in a general way making it appear that he was playing a part in developing the proposals.

Mr. Eden said he thought these were good tactics but it was important to know where to lead General Naguib.

The Secretary commented that this was a matter of negotiating tactics and that if we should get into the details prior to reaching an agreement on the base, the negotiations might drag on indefinitely.

Sir Pierson Dixon raised the question as to whether bringing the problem of Israel into the talks with Naguib would not constitute making the project too big to handle at one time stressing the importance of phrasing. He inquired if the Secretary had any further fundamental objections to the MEDO plan as drafted.

[Page 915]

The Secretary inquired about Pakistan.

Mr. Eden replied that there would be no difficulty with the Arabs on Pakistan but that it would create a problem with India and he doubted if Pakistan should be included in the original membership.

Mr. Byroade said that he had talked recently informally with Zafrullah on this question who had expressed the view that it would be better to make no reference to Pakistan unless we wanted Pakistan to join at the outset. In Zafrullah’s view this would merely create problems for Pakistan without giving them results. On the merits of the proposal, Zafrullah indicated that Pakistan would like to be in as he felt it would strengthen the Pakistani position. He agreed with Mr. Eden that Nehru would be considerably upset should Pakistan be brought in.

The Secretary concluded this discussion by reiterating that the present Administration which had inherited this paper required some latitude of time in which to study it.


The Secretary opened the discussion by saying that he did not know whether or not the British agreed with our estimate of the present political situation. He said that we felt while it was still obscure that the authority of the Shah had probably largely and permanently disappeared. We felt Mosadeq would probably come through the present situation remaining in authority. We felt further, however, that with the Shah gone or his authority gone that when Mosadeq disappears by one means or another, that there was increased doubt as to whether there would be an orderly transition to another government.

The Secretary said that the presently contemplated statement on the oil settlement indicates that if Mosadeq rejects the proposal we do not expect to come back with another form of proposal.8 The United States position under this contingency is to hold this matter in suspense. We would not contemplate large-scale U.S. financing of the Mosadeq government. We would wish to be tolerant, however, in permitting minor measures sufficient to keep Mosadeq barely afloat and thus avoid the disastrous possibility of the Communists replacing him. We feel the diminution or the disappearance of the Shah’s authority and prestige as well as those of the army seriously increase the risk of the Communists replacing Mosadeq if by one way or another he should fall. We said we had in mind permitting [Page 916]minor activities such as small sales of oil, letting the Jones technicians go to Iran, etc.

At this point the Secretary referred to a telegram just received from Ambassador Henderson advising holding up the statement on the oil question. The Ambassador felt it might be interpreted as indicating that the oil talks are continuing and that Mosadeq might find a way to capitalize on this in his struggle against the Shah. The Ambassador had pointed out that opposition to Mosadeq and support of the Shah were proving to be more stubborn than had been expected.

Mr. Eden said that this opposition undoubtedly meant Kashani but admitted a moment later that additionally probably Army elements could be included in the opposition.

At this point there was considerable discussion about the release or non-release of the proposed U.S. statement in the light of the fact that the Foreign Office had been instructed last night to issue to correspondents in London advanced guidance on it when the British here had been under the definite impression that it would be issued at noon today. In so far as the meeting was concerned, the matter was left at the point of a telephone call being put through to London by the British to ascertain what the situation was there with respect to the handling of the question with the press. In the course of this discussion Sir Pierson Dixon felt that despite the reasoning of Ambassador Henderson there was a strong argument remaining for issuing the statement. He felt that by issuing it the result might be to force Mosadeq to become the champion of the oil proposals.

Mr. Eden observed that if the political analysis is correct, and in this connection he paid a warm tribute to Ambassador Henderson’s acumen, he believed that little grants of cash or other assistance would be considerably less harmful than for Americans to be permitted to go to Abadan. He felt the presence of even a few Americans in Abadan would create a very serious situation public opinion-wise in the United Kingdom and might do considerable harm to U.S.–U.K. relations. He pleaded for us to leave anything pertaining directly to oil alone, indicating that other forms of assistance or acts would be much less difficult in the U.K.

There was some discussion at this point between Ambassador Aldrich and the Under Secretary as to whether Mr. Jones really desired or intended to send out technicians. The Under Secretary said that the latest word we had had here only a few days ago was that Mr. Jones felt himself committed to do so unless the United States Government asked him not to do it and that he was awaiting a decision which he expected to have when he returned North in about a week’s time.

[Page 917]

Mr. Eden reiterated the view that it would be foolish to endanger Anglo-American relations on operations of small importance such as this. He said that in the United Kingdom it boiled down to a question of pure politics resting on the fundamental proposition that in the United Kingdom Abadan in U.K. eyes is regarded as stolen property and that any move which would seem to indicate that the Americans were stepping into Abadan would be received most adversely.

The Under Secretary pointed out that we also have a public opinion problem.

The Secretary said he thought we would have to play certain aspects of this problem by ear as the situation developed. It is important to attempt to prevent a complete collapse in Iran. He was personally not certain that in the long run the Communists could be stopped if they pressed the issue but even the gaining of time would be important. It might be possible that in the immediate future the USSR will lose interest in external aggression although, of course, the reverse also was possible. The major objective for both of us should be to keep going in Iran a government which will be non-Communist. Additionally, he felt that no great premium should be paid Mosadeq for acting as he has. There should, for instance, be no major United States purchases of oil but, on the other hand, we should do what we can on a small scale to keep the Mosadeq government in existence.

Mr. Eden again reiterated the importance of rendering this help in ways other than directly connected with oil.

The Secretary said he thought this probably would be the proper course.


At the close of the meeting a revised British draft (see Tab A) on a possible formula which Eden might put up to London was handed to the Secretary. The Secretary indicated that he felt this should be discussed in the following meeting with the President.

Mr. Eden reemphasized that he felt it was important for our military man to go out at the same time as Field Marshal Slim.

There was some discussion about not delaying the negotiations pending the arrival of our military man. Mr. Dulles indicated that he thought the President might find it possible to send out General Hull, Vice Chief of Staff.

  1. The meeting took place in Secretary Dulles’ office. A summary of the minutes was transmitted to London (repeated to Cairo) in telegrams 1775 and 1776, Mar. 7. (774.5/3–753)
  2. Under reference here is the report on the U.S.–U.K. talks on Egypt, held at London, Dec. 31, 1952–Jan. 7, 1953, which included the text of five memoranda on Egypt and the Middle East Defense Organization. A copy of this report is in file 774.5/1–1453. For reports on the talks, see vol. ix, Part 2, pp. 1743 ff.
  3. For a record of the meeting with President Eisenhower, see the memorandum of conversation, infra.
  4. Presumably the reference is to the “United Kingdom Memorandum on Defence Negotiations with Egypt”. See telegram 1524 from Cairo, vol. ix, Part 2, p. 1920.
  5. Cases A, B, and C comprised various solutions to the the Suez Canal Base problem. Case A would have left the base largely under British control, while case C would have left it largely in Egyptian control. Case B offered a solution somewhere in between A and C. For text, see the editorial note, vol. ix, Part 2, p. 1931.
  6. See Document 378.
  7. No Tab A was found attached to the source text nor has a copy of the draft formulation been found in Department of State files. For the final text of the draft, see the attachment to the memorandum, infra.
  8. Documentation on the oil statement then under consideration by the United States and the Feb. 20 proposals by the British for a settlement of the oil question is scheduled for publication in volume x.