128. Editorial Note

On August 23, during the eighth and final plenary session of the Suez Canal Conference, the head of the New Zealand Delegation tabled the following statement, which announced the establishment of the Five-Nation Committee (also known as the Suez Committee):

“I am authorised by the Governments of Australia, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, to state that they have requested Representatives of the Governments of Australia, Ethiopia, Iran, Sweden and the United States of America, with Mr. Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia, as their Chairman, to approach on their behalf the Government of Egypt to place the statement recorded as Conference Document No. 12 before that Government, to explain its purposes and objectives to the said Government, and to find out if Egypt would agree to negotiate a Convention on the basis thereof. If Egypt expresses its willingness to enter into such negotiations, further arrangements, in consultation with Egypt, will be made to proceed with negotiations.

“The position of Spain is, I understand, as set forth by its Delegation yesterday in Conference Document No. 18.” (The Suez Canal Problem, July 26–September 22, 1956, page 293)

In the statement above, Conference Document 12 refers to the Five-Nation Proposal, also known as the Eighteen-Power Proposal; for text, see Document 110. For a summary of the Spanish position as set forth in Conference Document 18, see Document 116.

Following adjournment of the Conference, the Suez Committee remained in London to prepare for its mission. Secretary Dulles was the titular head of the United States Delegation to the Suez Committee, but after his departure for Washington on August 24, Loy Henderson served as the chief United States representative on the Committee. Other members of the Delegation were: Don C. Bliss, William C. Burdett, Jr., Stanley D. Metzger, Edwin G. Moline, and Virgil L. Moore of the Office of International Conferences in the Department of State.

At its first meeting on August 24, the Suez Committee accepted Secretary Dulles’ suggestion that the Committee’s first approach to Nasser should be a formal communication sent through the Egyptian Ambassador in London, Aboul Fetouh. (Secto 55 from London, August 24; Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/8–1456) That evening, Prime Minister Menzies delivered to the Egyptian [Page 285] Embassy the message to Nasser, which transmitted the Committee’s request to meet with the Egyptian President and to place before him and explain the views of the 18 Powers regarding the Suez Canal. (The text of Menzies’ message is printed in The Suez Canal Problem, July 26–September 22, 1956, page 303.) On August 28, President Nasser agreed to meet with the Committee in Cairo, and subsequently the Committee visited Cairo between September 3–9. The Suez Committee formally disbanded following its return to London from Egypt on September 10.

Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, contains the records kept by the United States Delegation to the Suez Committee, including summary minutes of meetings, administrative documents, memoranda of conversation, miscellaneous documents, and the numbered documents issued by the Suez Committee. Department of State Central File 974.7301 contains copies of the telegrams sent between Henderson and the Department of State. Menzies describes this mission to Cairo in his memoirs, Afternoon Light, pages 160–172.