232. Message From the Secretary of State to the President1

Dear Mr. President: I have been here now a little over 24 hours, and we have just had the first formal meeting of the 18 this morning.2 Yesterday was spent in conference with the British and the French, and I had private talks with Cunha of Portugal,3 Martino of Italy4 and Lange of Norway.5 Also last night Harold Macmillan and Salisbury dined with us. At the meeting this morning there were a few desultory remarks, and then I made a prepared statement outlining my ideas of the Users’ Association.6 Thereupon there was a general request to recess so that my remarks could be carefully studied. We are meeting again at 4 this afternoon.

My general impression is that the British and the French have quite isolated themselves even from what are naturally their closest friends. The Norwegians, whom the British habitually count upon, are worried; and also Italy, which since the war had worked closely with France, is worried. The fact is that the United States is the only bridge between the British and the French and the rest of the countries here. I do not yet know whether that bridge is going to hold. The Egyptians are making an enormous effort to make it appear that the Users’ Association is a device to lead the members down the path to war for which the British and the French are preparing, and Egyptian propaganda in this sense is having a definite impact. Doubt that we shall make as much or as rapid progress this week as the British and French have wanted, but we will know better by tomorrow.

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Good luck in your speech tonight.7

Faithfully yours,

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/9–1956. Secret. Transmitted Priority to the Department of State in Dulte 2 from London, 4 p.m., which is the source text, with the instruction: “Eyes only Acting Secretary for President from Secretary”. Dulte 2 was received at 11:33 a.m. A copy is in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles–Herter Series.
  2. Reference is to the first plenary session of the Second Suez Canal Conference, which began at 11 a.m., September 19. A summary of the session was transmitted to the Department of State in Secto 10 from London, September 19. (Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/9–1956)
  3. The memorandum of Dulles’ conversation with Portuguese Foreign Minister Paolo A.V. Cunha is not printed. (Ibid., Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 774)
  4. The memorandum of Dulles’ conversation with Italian Foreign Minister Gaetano Martino is not printed. (Ibid.)
  5. The memorandum of Dulles’ conversation with Norwegian Foreign Minister Harvard M. Lange is not printed. (Ibid.)
  6. The text of the Secretary’s remarks was transmitted to the Department of State in Secto 11 from London, September 19. (Ibid., Central Files, 974.7301/9–1956) The complete text is printed in The Suez Canal Problem, July 26–September 22, 1956, pp. 353–356; and in Department of State Bulletin, October 1, 1956, pp. 503–506.
  7. See footnote 3, Document 244.
  8. Dulte 2 bears this typed signature.