384. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

5584. Pursuant Deptel 72212 Barbour explored with Kirkpatrick yesterday general concept proposal riparian Nile conference outlined Deptel 7084.3 While Kirkpatrick was aware in general way of possibility internationalization Nile waters agreement, specific concept Dept’s proposal had not been previously raised with him. His initial reaction which he emphasized he expressed on purely personal basis was to see merit in idea. However he was particularly concerned with difficulties of working out procedure whereby idea could be broached without US or UK initiative becoming known. Direct US or UK approach to Sudan would he thought immediately be passed on to Nasser. Conceivably this difficulty could be overcome if suitable third party could be persuaded to undertake initiative and in that connection he had in mind some possible European power.

With general reference US–UK position on Aswan Dam, Kirkpatrick mentioned conversation between Secretary and Lloyd at Paris (Paris tel Secto 114) which he said British have summarized as two Secretaries having concluded that Aswan project should “languish”. He thought “languish” is subject to two interpretations and it has not been clear that Secretary and Lloyd were in agreement whether by languishing they meant (1) languish to point of death, or (2) languish but be kept alive for further consideration. With regard to basic US–UK objective in fostering Dam project to forestall Soviet penetration in Egypt and Nile valley, Kirkpatrick’s own thinking, as Department will be aware, is that Soviet relations with Nasser are already so close as to have virtually accomplished Soviet penetration we seek to avoid, and he is consequently extremely dubious about continuing with project. He also mentioned that like ourselves he would anticipate that UK Government would have difficulty with Parliament in pressing project further at this time. Consequently Kirkpatrick’s interest in Department’s concept of international conference is as device frustrate Soviet undertaking project rather than delaying tactic with view to possible reactivation US–UK participation later date.

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Kirkpatrick will have Department’s suggestion considered fully as matter of urgency and will give us UK’s further more formal reaction soonest. Meanwhile in conversation with Embassy officer working level said draft instructions to Washington were being prepared proposing high level approach to Department to determine whether US and UK should (1) proceed with High Dam project, (2) withdraw their support from project or (3) consider other alternatives among which might be included, when circumstances warrant, conference of riparian powers along lines suggested by Department.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 874.2614/6–256. Top Secret. Received at 12:16 p.m.
  2. Printed as telegram 2815, Document 365.
  3. Printed as telegram 226, Document 362.
  4. Document 327.