162. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

1050. Eyes only Chief of Mission London. Reference: Deptel 826, repeated London 1590, Cairo 617, Rome 954, Amman 223, Baghdad 312, Damascus 386, Jidda 165, Beirut 706, Tel Aviv 187.2 Pineau, as well as Mollet, is out of town and highest Foreign Office official immediately available was Daridan. We presented Department’s views to him and he promised to convey them to Joxe and, as soon as possible, to Foreign Minister and Prime Minister.

Daridan was not surprised at our démarche. He said French themselves had been disturbed at publicity surrounding military preparations. Announcement regarding dispatch French troops to Cyprus had been made only because stationing foreign troops on British territory required Queen’s proclamation which had to be made public.

Concerning evacuation French nationals from Egypt and Jordan, Daridan insisted this is not psychological warfare but is motivated by genuine anxiety for safety French women and children. If hostilities or disorders should occur they might arise so rapidly that necessary transport for evacuation could not be provided. In view extreme excitability and ruthlessness Arab mobs, French Government felt it could not take responsibility for failing to issue timely warnings. They may well have to extend warning to Syria and Lebanon as British have done.

Concerning basic policies and future plans, Daridan said that, as far as he knows, no decision has been taken to use military force and indeed French Government is most anxious avoid use of force if possible. French do not wish to prejudice work of committee of five and intend take no action until committee has completed its work and reported. At that time they will certainly consult at once with United States and United Kingdom and perhaps with all seventeen which had approved London proposals.

On the other hand, the French are firmly determined that Nasser shall not be allowed “to get away with it.” They understood committee of five discussions would not be dragged out and consider it necessary to be prepared for all eventualities thereafter. They continue to hope for peaceful solution and indeed believe their [Page 354] precautionary measures will help to convince Nasser that the game is up and he will have to give way. He will not be convinced by sweet reason. French have evidence Russian arms are continuing to reach Egypt in substantial quantities. There must be no doubt in Nasser’s mind that resort to force on his part would produce immediate and effective riposte.

Comment: We went over Department’s views several times with Daridan and made sure he fully understands extreme seriousness with which we regard situation. If Daridan accurately reflects French thinking, and we believe he does, French position could be summarized as follows:

Nasser must be made to yield and to yield in such way as not to save his face, at least to any substantial degree;
Best way to induce him to yield is by demonstration absolute Anglo-French determination to carry through, including demonstrated intention to use military force if necessary.
These tactics will probably succeed and peaceful solution is likely, but force must be used if other means do not succeed.

We shall follow up tomorrow to make certain our views have reached highest quarters.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/9–256. Top Secret; Niact. Received at 2:52 p.m. Repeated Priority to London, Cairo, Rome, Amman, Baghdad, Damascus, Jidda, Beirut, and Tel Aviv. A copy in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles–Herter Series is initialed by Eisenhower.
  2. Document 160.