180. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State1

623. Suez—From Henderson.

We have carefully studied suggestions contained in Deptel 640, September 4,2 which because technical difficulties received only last evening. British Ambassador meantime received description these suggestions and mentioned them to Byroade. Apparently British Ambassador considered suggestions as ingenious but impracticable.
We inclined believe in view attitude Egyptian Government and people attempt put suggestions this kind in practice would lead to many complications and to constant difficulties and friction. Such [Page 399] institutional arrangements in our opinion would be even more unpalatable to Egypt than 18-nation proposals which Nasser is rejecting. Egypt considers canal is and always has been integral part of Egyptian territory and that responsibility for its operations, safeguarding and protection rests on Egypt. There is no doubt that Egypt would refuse permit pilots employed by association of users formed without Egypt’s consent to enter what is considered as Egyptian territory. Furthermore Egypt would ignore any decisions taken unilaterally by such association for setting up traffic and convey systems and would certainly insist that tolls be paid to it-not to an association residing abroad. It difficult see how repair and construction work could be carried on without consent and cooperation Egyptian Government.
In our opinion attempt users of canal put suggestions into effect would serve merely increase international tension and danger resort to force. We doubt whether united front user nations could be maintained during tortuous course negotiations to carry out these suggestions and whether we would have good case in Security Council if we should complain that Egypt would not accept decisions of a users association formed without reference to it.
In any event I am convinced Menzies and other members our committee would not look with favor on suggestion and would oppose our making any hints to Nasser that his refusal accept 18-power proposal might lead to an association this kind. Nasser in our opinion would react vigorously to such hint as an imperialistic attempt to impose foreign control on canal in utter disregard Egypt’s sovereignty.
As it is I am beginning encounter certain difficulties with Menzies. Tireless campaign Egyptian press that U.S. does not really have its heart in proposals of committee is commencing to have effect both on Menzies and other members committee.

Egyptian press has not hesitated interpret statements made by President and Secretary to mean U.S. no longer fully backs these proposals and is looking for other solutions more acceptable to Egypt. Menzies was really concerned this morning when I objected to his suggestons that: (A) We send Nasser’s document presenting our proposals his stated objections thereto and our replies to his objections. (B) We accept Nasser’s reply as rejection 18-nation proposals. (C) We refrain from discussing any counter-proposals from Nasser or transmitting them to 18 nations.

In my view we should provide Nasser in writing with careful unprovocative résumé; of committee’s presentation; we should obtain further details from Nasser regarding his counter-proposals; and we [Page 400] should transmit such counter-proposals as part of committee’s report to 18 nations.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/9–656. Top Secret; Niact. Received at 11:57 p.m. Repeated to London.
  2. Document 170.