23. Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the President in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the Secretary of State in Washington, July 29, 1956, 5:40 p.m.1

I said to the President that since my return about noon I had been working actively on the Suez Canal matter. There was a conference at the moment going on at my house with Mr. Hoover, Mr. Allen Dulles, Mr. Phleger, Mr. Rountree, Mr. Elbrick, etc.2 I said that while I had not yet completed my review of the case, I had come to the conclusion first that I should not go at this time to London to participate in the meeting with the British and French Foreign Ministers3 and secondly that I thought that we were right in playing down the use of force, particularly at this juncture. I said that the latest cable from Murphy4 indicated that the British were taking a somewhat calmer view.

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I said that as far as the seizure of the stock company was concerned, the United States did not have a very strong case because there were only insignificant U.S. holdings of the stock. On the other hand, the operation of the Canal was another matter. I thought we should be prepared, if necessary, to use force to keep the Canal going. I hoped that a broad international basis for this could be developed.

The President said he concurred in my not going to London, and also in general of the non-use of force at this juncture. However, he pointed out that there was danger of developing inefficiency in the operation of the Canal and that there might be a progressive decline and that it would be difficult to pick a particular point at which to take forcible action. I said I recognized this danger and said we would take it into account in our deliberations.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated subjects.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/7–2956. Secret. Drafted by Dulles.
  2. According to Dulles’ Appointment Book, the Secretary arrived at Washington from Lima at 12:10 p.m., July 29. Hoover and Phleger met the Secretary and accompanied him to Dulles’ home, where a meeting began at 3 p.m. “re Suez”. Present at the meeting, in addition to the above, were Rountree, Elbrick, Allen Dulles, Copeland, Bowie, Allen, Russell, McCardle, and Kirk. (Princeton University Library, Dulles Papers) No account of this meeting has been found in Department of State files.
  3. On July 28, the French Embassy delivered to the Department of State a message to Secretary Dulles from Foreign Minister Pineau that pleaded for Dulles’ attendance at the London meeting scheduled for July 30. (Department of State, Central Files, 110.11–DU/7–2856) Dulles received the message while in transit to Washington from Lima. (Tedul 23 to Lima, July 28; ibid., 396.1–LO/7–2856) Following this conversation with Eisenhower, Dulles sent to Pineau through the Embassy in London a cable stating his regret that he could not attend. (Telegram 570 to London, July 29; ibid., 974.7301/7–2956)
  4. Supra.