395. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Hoover) and the British Ambassador (Makins), Department of State, Washington, June 13, 19561


  • High Aswan Dam

Ambassador Makins called on Mr. Hoover to leave with him the attached message which was telegraphed by the British Ambassador in Cairo concerning the possibility that the Soviet Government will undertake during Shepilov’s visit to Cairo an agreement with Egypt for financing the High Aswan Dam.2

The Ambassador also showed Mr. Hoover a copy of a brief and rather cryptic message … relating to Egyptian–Soviet negotiations in Moscow.3 The message indicated that the Egyptian Ambassador to Moscow felt that there were substantial difficulties involved in overcoming Russian demands that they have security for a loan for construction of the Dam. There was also the implication that part of the question involved was admission of substantial numbers of Soviet technicians. The Egyptian Ambassador commented to Cairo that they should probably yield to the Soviet demands in order to [Page 727] avoid either (a) subjecting Egypt to Western domination by virtue of an agreement with Western countries for the construction of the Dam or (b) putting off implementation of the project.

It thus appeared that the Egyptians might in fact be actively negotiating with the Soviets on the Aswan Dam. Mr. Hoover and the Ambassador discussed various communications from the American and British Ambassadors in Cairo which would appear to lend credence to this supposition.

Ambassador Makins said that he was expecting momentarily to receive instructions from the Foreign Office to discuss the present problem with the Department, and thought he would be prepared to set forth London’s views as to what should be done.4 He said that he would be in touch with Mr. Hoover as soon as possible to arrange a meeting for this purpose. Mr. Hoover informed the Ambassador that we also were giving active consideration to the matter. In this general and brief discussion he made the following main points:

a. In view of the fact we no longer have FY56 funds available we cannot undertake a firm commitment at this time to proceed with the project.

b. Any commitment would have to be generalized to take into account the fact that FY57 funds had not been enacted by the Congress and we could in no event give firm assurances regarding participation beyond that contemplated in the original Phase I.

c. We were considering taking the initiative in making a statement before the Shepilov visit, although such a statement might in fact increase the chances that an Egyptian–Soviet deal would be consummated during Shepilov’s stay in Cairo.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNEA Files: Lot 61 D 417, Omega #7. Top Secret. Drafted by Rountree. A notation on the source text indicates Secretary Dulles saw this memorandum.
  2. Not printed. The message is summarized in the British Embassy memorandum, infra.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.
  4. See infra.