182. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1

5148. Deliver following message from the President to Prime Minister at once. In doing so make clear US position on adherence Baghdad Pact is not frozen.

Begin verbatim text.

Dear Anthony : I share your concern over the current developments in the Middle East2 and know that Foster has discussed them with Selwyn Lloyd.3

We face a broad challenge to our position in the Near East and to our objectives of strengthening our ties with those countries. I believe that our reaction should consist not of isolated moves, but a carefully thought out program.

The Soviets have made abundantly clear even in their public statements their intentions toward the Near East. It is of course true that some of the moves made by Nasser, though for different reasons, have the effect of assisting the Soviets. It may be that we shall be driven to conclude that it is impossible to do business with Nasser. However, I do not think that we should close the door yet on the possibility of working with him. For one thing, such a decision would cancel out any prospects of obtaining now an Arab-Israel settlement.

I agree thoroughly with you on the necessity of aiding our friends and have written you separately with respect to the additional Centurion tanks for Iraq.4 However, I question whether adherence by the United States to the Baghdad Pact now is the right answer. Measures apart from actual accession to the Pact such as our recent decision to increase aid to Pakistan and Iran may be more effective support for our friends. This is particularly true when drawbacks to adherence are considered, such as the effect on the other Arab States and probable demands for arms and a security guarantee to Israel.

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I do not believe that our assessment of the situation in Jordan is firm enough to permit useful comment on your suggestion that you allot to Iraq some of the aid currently given to Jordan.

I am pleased that you sent me your preliminary thoughts and shall be waiting to hear the results of the discussions between Selwyn Lloyd and Foster.5

Sincerely, Dwight D. Eisenhower

End verbatim text.

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Eisenhower to Eden Correspondence 1955–1956. Vol. I. Secret. Repeated to New Delhi for Secretary Dulles.
  2. See footnote 6, Document 161.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 172.
  4. The President on March 6 informed the Prime Minister that he planned to request funds from Congress to supply Iraq with 40 additional Centurion tanks. Eisenhower, however, wished this information to remain secret until the administration had formally presented the program to Congress. He hoped to handle the request in a manner which would not increase Arab-Israeli tensions. (Telegram 5037 to London, March 6; Department of State, Central Files, 787.5–MSP/3–656)
  5. For Eden’s response, see Document 204.