146. Editorial Note

On August 8 President Eisenhower held a news conference devoted primarily to a discussion of the Suez Canal crisis. During the course of the conference, he pointed out that the Suez Canal became an international waterway as a result of the treaty of 1888. This was completely unlike the Panama Canal, he continued, which was “strictly a national undertaking carried out under a bilateral treaty.” Excerpts from the President’s remarks were transmitted to Assistant Secretary Holland, who was in Panama as part of a larger visit to several Latin American nations, in telegram 95 to Panama City, August 8. (396.1–LO/8–856) For the full transcript of Eisenhower’s press conference, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956 (Washington, United States Government Printing Office, 1957), pages 660–671.

At 11:30 a.m. that same day, the President met with Secretary of State Dulles to consider Suez developments. Eisenhower and Dulles briefly discussed the relationship between the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal. According to Dulles’ memorandum of that conversation, the following exchange took place:

“I mentioned to the President that there was some indication that Panama was getting into contact with Egypt. The President indicated considerable annoyance and stated that if we left the Panama Zone we would take the locks with us. He again reverted to a suggestion that he had made once or twice before that we should consider the desirability of building an alternative route in Nicaragua so that we would not be subject to blackmail.”