429. Message From Prime Minister Eden to President Eisenhower1

Dear Mr. President:Harold has telegraphed to Foster details of very disturbing information which we have just received about the likelihood of an Egyptian-Russian deal over the Aswan Dam. If the Russians were to succeed in this they would of course be ruthless with the Sudan and abuse their control of the Nile Waters. The outlook for Africa would then be grim indeed. Kaissouni and Hilmi2 are now in Washington negotiating with the International Bank for a loan to enable a Western consortium to build the Dam. A preliminary contract has been signed with Alexander Gibb, a British firm, as consultant engineers.3 I understand that the main difficulty the International Bank has in helping the Egyptians is that they [Page 809]should pay some regard to their usual rule of international tendering. If this is insisted upon and the Egyptians leave Washington without agreement, I fear the Russians are certain to get the contract. Poland will act as a stooge in this case as Czechoslovakia did for the arms. The Bank are not unnaturally anxious about the position of the Egyptian economy over the next thirty year outlook and want to be assured that there is some outside finance in addition to the money which the Bank will themselves put up. We are prepared to do our small part in supporting our share of the consortium and there is also the question of the other two Governments involved namely the French and the German Governments. We believe that they will play their part. It would be invaluable to get the help of your Government, it being always understood that in that event an American firm would take part in the operation.

I hate to trouble you with this but I am convinced that on our joint success in excluding the Russians from this contract may depend the future of Africa. I hope to have the chance of a talk with you when it suits you about the whole of this situation but meanwhile we must avert the disaster of the two Egyptians leaving Washington without the conviction that agreement is going to be reached.

Yours ever,

Anthony4
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File. Top Secret. Ambassador Makins forwarded Prime Minister Eden’s message to President Eisenhower and sent a copy to the Department of State. (Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204,Eden to Eisenhower Correspondence 1955–1956 Vol. I)
  2. Samir Hilmy, Secretary General of the High Dam Board.
  3. The Embassy in Cairo reported on October 30 that the Government of Egypt had signed a contract on October 29 with Alexander Gibb. (Telegram 838 from Cairo; Department of State, Central Files, 874.2614/10–3055)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.