No. 1104
Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Jernegan) to the Secretary of State1

top secret


  • Procedure for Negotiations with Egypt


At the London talks in January, it was agreed that the American and British Ambassadors in Cairo would open negotiations on the Suez Canal question by informing General Naguib that our two Governments were willing to discuss a general settlement based on five points:2

A phased withdrawal of British armed forces from Egyptian territory.
The maintenance of the Canal Zone Base in peace with a view to its immediate reactivation in the event of war.
An arrangement for the air defense of Egypt.
The participation of Egypt in a Middle East Defense Organization.
A program of (US and UK) military and economic assistance to Egypt.

If the Egyptian Government accepted these points as a basis for discussion, it was proposed that technical committees be set up to deal with items (a), (b), (c), and (e). The question of Egyptian participation in a Middle East Defense Organization, which is a key point for us, would be handled by the two Ambassadors, who would have considerable discretion in their tactics. (The agreement on these procedures is to be found on Page 11 of the paper enclosed with Mr. Churchill’s letter to the President.)

The immediate question raised by Mr. Churchill is whether we should send a high-ranking military officer to accompany our Ambassador in joint discussions with the Egyptians, the British representatives being Ambassador Stevenson and Field Marshal Sir William Slim. A broader question raised by his letter is how closely our representatives should be associated with the British in all phases of the negotiations.

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We understand that Mr. Eden intends to discuss the Egyptian negotiations with you during his forthcoming visit3 and that negotiations with Egypt will not be begun until his return to London.

As you may be aware, both Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden attach great importance to the Egyptian problem, especially because of the strength of public opinion in Great Britain. Even in the Conservative Party, there is considerable opposition to Mr. Eden’s conciliatory policy. He is having much difficulty in getting Parliamentary backing for the impending negotiations.


We have already agreed, and there seems no reason to change that decision, that our Ambassador should act in concert with the British Ambassador in making the initial approach and endeavoring to get Egyptian agreement to the five points as a basis for negotiation. To go beyond this and associate ourselves closely with the military negotiations by sending a high-ranking military representative to join Ambassador Caffery would have both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, if the negotiations should break down, which is quite possible, we will incur a greater share of blame from the Egyptians. On the other hand, these negotiations will be conducted with a military regime and the combined weight of British and American military representatives might be an important contribution to their success.

If a special military representative is sent, he should be both exceptionally able and of sufficient stature to command the respect of both the Egyptians and the British. Otherwise, he would not be able to exercise real influence and we would then incur all the disadvantages of military representation without the advantages.


I suggest you advise the President to fall in with Mr. Churchill’s suggestion, provided a suitable officer of sufficiently high rank can be made available. I assume the President would wish to consult the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in this regard.

In informing Mr. Churchill of his decision, the President might well indicate his strong hope that the negotiations can be begun quickly to take advantage of the momentum created by the recent Sudan settlement and to avoid the danger of rash Egyptian statements and actions which might seriously prejudice the chances of success.

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It might also be well for the President to express gratification at Mr. Churchill’s assurances that no American military or other assistance will be needed or called for in the event of failure of the negotiations and to say that he would deeply regret the necessity for British forces in Egypt to enter into action.

  1. Jernegan drafted this memorandum, and it had the concurrence of Paul H. Nitze, Director of the Policy Planning Staff, and James C. H. Bonbright, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs.
  2. See footnotes 2 and 3, Document 1082.
  3. Foreign Secretary Eden and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, R. A. Butler, were scheduled to come to Washington early in March 1953, for a series of high-level meetings. See Documents 1111 ff. For additional documentation regarding these talks, see volume VI, Part 1.