207. Report Prepared in the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State1

Summary No. 6

SUMMARY OF DEVELOPMENTS IN SUEZ SITUATION

British Views

Kirkpatrick told Barbour yesterday that the British have been encouraged by the President’s message and the Secretary’s conversations with British Embassy representatives in Washington.2 They now feel that there is a large measure of identity of views between us.

Barbour comments on the significance of Kirkpatrick’s now envisaging the application of such relatively long-range measures as economic sanctions. This is in contrast with the views expressed by Eden at his luncheon for Senator George on Thursday3 when the Prime Minister contended that such measures would not be effective with sufficient rapidity to maintain the British position with the other Arab states. Barbour also noted that action toward the establishment of a canal users organization such as the Secretary has suggested will be sufficient to maintain pro-Western sentiment in the other Arab countries.

Embassy London has been informed4 that a White Paper on Suez will be presented at the opening of the special session of Parliament tomorrow. Eden will then lead off the debate. The Embassy also reports that leading Conservative MP’s consider that a firm decision has been taken to bring the Suez matter to the UN, but that it has not yet been determined whether the Security Council or a special session of the General Assembly should be used. Nevertheless, the Tory MP’s continue to back Eden and the Government firmly in a decision to use force if and when the Prime Minister finds it necessary.

British Labour Party Position

Gaitskell suggested to Senator George and Holmes yesterday5 [Page 475]that a compromise over Suez might be reached by recognizing that Egypt should handle the “daily operation” of the canal while leaving to an international council specific matters such as freedom of passage, tolls, development, and possibly the larger question of investments in Egypt. Gaitskell commented, as have other Labour Party leaders, that he would welcome UN consideration of the canal dispute.

[Here follows a report of Pineau’s conversation with Dillon of September 10. See telegram 1158, Document 201.]

Emergency and Evacuation Plans

Although Byroade has reported substantially increased tension,6 Henderson says7 the security situation appears good at present. He notes that Nasser seems to have both the desire and the capability to maintain security and avoid incidents, but that this situation could change under severe Anglo-French pressure or armed attack. If Americans begin to leave Egypt, other foreign communities would probably become panicky, and the Egyptians themselves would become angry and frightened. Consequently, Henderson advises against evacuation unless Anglo-French armed action is imminent.

The first contingent of British Embassy dependents has already left Cairo, and a special French evacuation ship is expected by the end of the week. In Syria, the French Embassy has been ordered to reduce its staff and evacuate dependents; in Jordan, dependents of British troops have been advised to leave.

Embassy Jidda states that it expects the Saudis to try to protect Americans even if war comes. And we have received assurances from President Chamoun that security will be maintained in Lebanon. So far we have no plans for going beyond the Phase I stage which has been instituted only in Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

(Summary closed 2:05 p.m., September 10, 1956)

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File. Top Secret; Eyes Only for Designated Recipient. A marginal notation on the source text reads: “File/DE”.
  2. Reported in telegram 1366 from London, September 10, not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/9–1056)
  3. Reported in telegram 1335 from London, September 6, not printed. (Ibid., 974.7301/9–656)
  4. Reported in telegram 1383 from London, September 10, not printed. (Ibid., 974.7301/9–1056)
  5. Reported in telegram 1368 from London, September 10, not printed. (Ibid.)
  6. In telegram 668 from Cairo, September 8, not printed. (Ibid., 974.7301/9–856)
  7. In telegram 671 from Cairo, September 8, not printed. (Ibid., 274.1122/9–856)