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

1217. Deliver immediately to the Secretary. I accompanied Senator George on courtesy visits this morning to both Pineau and Mollet. Substantive conversation at both meetings dealt solely with Suez. Both Pineau and Mollet expressed great satisfaction with present situation. Mollet said that he had been disturbed by lack of agreement with United States during course of four, five days preceding agreement on users association. Both men gave clear impression that they felt users association fully satisfied need for action on the part of France and Britain and contributed to avoiding danger of armed hostilities. Mollet clearly indicated that he felt establishment of users association had had beneficial first effect on Nasser and had been of importance in persuading him to make no objection to departure of non-Egyptian pilots.2

Talking about the future Mollet said it was essential to success of any negotiation that Nasser understand clearly that he could not get away with his grab: he said that establishment of users association adequately covered this point. There was certainly clear inference that once users establishment set up French would be willing to enter into serious negotiations with Nasser for permanent settlement which would naturally have to be along general lines of the 18 power proposal.

Pineau indicated clearly that he expected great majority of shipping to use Cape of Good Hope route. He said he understood United States was planning to advise United States controlled tankers to use this route and he expressed satisfaction with this decision. Pineau also said he felt there was now good possibility of avoiding hostilities unless Nasser committed further grave act. In further conversation regarding possibilities that Egyptians would make it impossible for users association vessels to pass through canal Pineau at no time indicated that he felt such interference with traffic, if [Page 491]carried out peacefully, would be the type of grave action by Nasser which might bring on hostilities.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/9–1356. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution—Suez Canal. Received at 8:36 a.m. Repeated to London. A copy in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles–Herter Series, bears a handwritten marginal notation that reads: “Sent to President at Gettysburg 13 Sept 56”.
  2. On September 13 in telegram 734, the Embassy in Cairo reported that the Egyptian Government had announced that it would place no obstacle in the way of the pilots’ departure and that the Egyptian Government had taken several steps to facilitate their departure. (Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/9–1256)