100. Message From the Secretary of State to the President1

Dear Mr. President: I have your message of August 19,2 suggesting the concept of “supervisory authority” rather than “operating authority”. As you say, the real difference is not in the name, which can be adjusted to meet Nasser’s sensibilities, but in what are in fact the responsibilities. It is felt very strongly here by most of the countries that if all of the hiring and firing of pilots, traffic directors and other technicians and engineers is made by the Egyptians with only some right of appeal, then in fact Egypt will be able to use the Canal as an instrument of its national policy.

It would be very difficult, and perhaps impossible from the standpoint of the British and French, to get agreement now to take a position which would seem to involve abandonment of this principle.

It is to be borne in mind that we are not here negotiating with Egypt for Egypt is not present, and I doubt whether we should make at this stage concessions which we might be willing to make as a matter of last resort in order to obtain Egypt’s concurrence.

Perhaps something along the lines you suggest may have to be accepted ultimately and may become acceptable, but neither is clear today.

It may be possible to soften up somewhat the sentence to which you refer, but with your approval I shall at this stage defer use of your suggestion.

Faithfully yours,

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/8–2056. Secret. Transmitted to the Department of State in Dulte 13 from London, August 20, 9 a.m., which is the source text, with the instruction “Eyes only Acting Secretary for President from Secretary”. The telegram was received at 6:56 a.m. A copy is in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles–Herter Series.
  2. Document 98.
  3. Dulte 13 bears this typed signature.