111. Message From the Secretary of State to the President1

Dear Mr. President: Our session today2 virtually completed the line-up of the twenty-two nations on our proposal. The big achievement was that we got four Asian-African countries—Ethiopia, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey—to introduce as their own the United States proposal with some very nominal amendments3 so that they are now definitely committed to our program, and the program becomes not just a Western program but one with Asian and African support. This means we shall have 18 of the 22 countries (Spain having made a minor reservation)3 with only four not joining, namely, the Soviet Union, India, Indonesia and Ceylon. This is a more impressive result than we had anticipated. Tomorrow we shall be completing the record in this respect and then I hope adopt a resolution designating a committee to present the plan to Egypt and find out whether they are willing to negotiate along the lines indicated.

We have had many back-stage talks about the constitution of this committee. I have been urged from many quarters to act, but I have decided that I ought not to engage myself personally as a negotiator with Egypt. We are now thinking tentatively of a committee of three, made up of Australia, Norway or Sweden and Pakistan.

The Scandinavians told me as a group that they would not serve unless the United States served, but I am not sure they will stick to that.

The disappointing aspect of the situation is that at the meeting today Shepilov made a very inflammatory speech4 charging our plan as being a maneuver of colonialism and designed to reimpose Western rule upon Egypt. This statement will of course be widely circulated throughout the Arab world, and was I think deliberately calculated to make it difficult for Nasser now to accept our program unless it is heavily disguised.

I feel that this speech made when he realized that the conference itself was going overwhelmingly against him was a last-ditch [Page 254]maneuver which, however, I think clearly reveals that their purpose is to prevent a settlement and to become themselves dominant in the Arab world, by bribing it into a hostility toward the West which will make the Arabs ever more dependent upon the Soviet Union. Shepilov’s speech makes a mockery of their protestation of their desire to achieve a relaxation of tension in this area.

At the close of the session at my suggestion, Menzies made a brief statement showing how absurd it was to charge that this project with its broad backing from many former colonial countries could be a maneuver of colonialism. I thought it better for Menzies to make that statement than for me to make it as that would have reproduced the customary clash between the United States and the USSR. I am not discouraged as to the final outcome but certainly the Russians have taken a step which makes a peaceful solution more difficult to achieve. On the other hand, we have more resources on our side than we had dared hope for.

Faithfully yours,

Foster5
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/8–2156. Secret. Transmitted to the Department of State in Dulte 19 from London, August 21, 10 p.m., which is the source text, with the instruction “Eyes only Acting Secretary for President from Secretary”. The telegram was received at 7:46 p.m. A copy is in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles–Herter Series.
  2. Reference is to the sixth plenary session
  3. See the editorial note, supra .
  4. See the editorial note, supra .
  5. For text, see The Suez Canal Problem, July 26–September 22, 1956, pp. 209-218.
  6. Dulte 19 bears this typed signature.