224. Memorandum of a Conversation, White House, Washington, March 28, 1956, 4:40–6:30 p.m.1

SUBJECT

  • United States Policy in the Near East

PARTICIPANTS

  • The President
  • Secretary of State
  • Secretary of Defense
  • Under Secretary of State
  • Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Admiral Radford
  • George V. Allen, Assistant Secretary of State
  • Colonel A. J. Goodpaster
  • William M. Rountree, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

At the outset of the meeting with the President to discuss the Near Eastern situation, the Secretary of State handed the President a memorandum setting forth a proposed line of action which might be taken in relation to Egypt and other states in the area.2

[Page 422]

After general discussion of the various aspects of the paper, the President stated his agreement that we should proceed along the lines indicated. He emphasized the importance of focusing our attention upon Saudi Arabia in order to develop a position of greater strength in that country. He therefore suggested that a concerted effort be undertaken at once to enhance the position of the United States in Saudi Arabia and to encourage the King to assume greater leadership in the Arab world. This would, of course, require that the British make substantial concessions regarding Buraimi, but if the British were to yield in this matter, they would have to see that they were getting something concrete in return. The main lines of our broad program should be coordinated as far as feasible with the British. The President further commented in connection with Buraimi that the King should be made to feel that he obtained a Buraimi settlement because he was cooperating with the Western countries and disassociate any such success from Egyptian influence or assistance.

The President underlined the importance of developing relationships in the Sudan and Libya to assure the establishment and continuation of a pro-Western position and opposition to Soviet or Egyptian influence. He asked that Ambassador-Designate Pinkerton be sent to Khartoum at the earliest possible moment.3

In the general discussion regarding the importance of the Near East to the West, the Secretary of State asked Admiral Radford if he would initiate a study of the facts concerning the world oil picture, particularly the extent to which Near Eastern oil is essential to Western Europe.4 . .

It was the consensus that, while the United States should not now adhere to the Baghdad Pact or announce its intention of doing so, greater support should be given to the Pact. It was felt that a high-ranking military official should be sent to the area to participate in military planning, and that a high civilian official should be sent to Baghdad Pact Council meetings.

It was also felt that we must exert upon Israel strong pressure to assume a conciliatory attitude and to do all it can to reduce area tensions and thus minimize the danger of an outbreak of hostilities.

It was the consensus of the meeting that Near Eastern resources are so vital to the security interests of the United States and the [Page 423]West generally that we could not accept a situation in which access to those resources would be subject to hostile control. Measures, even drastic, would have to be seriously contemplated.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNEA Files: Lot 61 D 417, Omega #1. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted on March 29 by Rountree. Another version of this conversation is infra. Dulles’ Appointment Book notes the conversation was to begin at 4:30 p.m. (Princeton University Library, Dulles Papers), but the President’s Daily Appointments indicates it began at 4:40 p.m. and concluded at 6:30. (Eisenhower Library)
  2. Supra.
  3. Lowell C. Pinkerton was appointed April 12, 1956, and presented his credentials at Khartoum May 17.
  4. According to a handwritten note by Howe of April 2, Admiral Radford subsequently sent to Bowie for transmittal to Dulles a Department of the Interior memorandum for the record dated March 30 dealing with U.S. strategic and economic interest in Near Eastern oil. Copies of Howe’s note and the Department of the Interior memorandum are in Department of State, S/SNEA Files: Lot 61 D 417, Omega #1.