238. Memorandum of a Conversation, British Foreign Office, London, September 20, 1956, 10 a.m.1



  • The United States
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Henderson
    • Mr. Phleger
    • AMB. Dillon
    • Mr. Brown
    • Mr. Macomber
    • Mr. Metzger
    • Mr. Burdett
  • The United Kingdom
    • Mr. Lloyd
    • Mr. Fitzmaurice
    • Mr. Beeley
    • Mr. Ross
  • France
    • Mr. Pineau
    • Mr. Cheval
    • Mr. Daridan


  • CASU

After Mr. Lloyd had opened the meeting, the Secretary said that he thought it was necessary to give the Conference something definite to consider in the form of a paper describing the proposed Users’ Association. This procedure would serve to overcome the existing confusion. Apparently several of the delegations had instructions from their governments not to go along with the Users’ Association. If an agreed paper could be worked out, they would be able on that basis to seek further instructions. Any strong moves made with respect to Egypt would have to be apart from the proposed association. In the case of the United States, at least, action in connection with the association would have to be such as not to require Congressional approval. The Secretary assumed that most other delegations were in a similar situation. If an association were set up which did not involve incurring formal obligations, less resistance would be encountered from the Conference. The Secretary concluded that he had planned to leave tonight but could stay over until Friday.

Mr. Lloyd said he hoped very strongly the Secretary would stay over so that some final decisions could be reached. Mr. Pineau observed that if the objective was to get agreement on Friday it would be impossible to work out a statute for the association. [Page 534] Perhaps the proposed executive authority could be given the power to work out the statute.

At this point the United States drafts of a declaration and a statute for a Cooperative Association of Suez Canal Users (CASU) were distributed.2

The Secretary agreed to Mr. Pineau’s proposal that the statute be omitted. Mr. Pineau thought that the executive group could set up some “internal regulations” which could serve in lieu of a statute. The Secretary commented that the executive group might be given the power to form its own rules. Mr. Phleger suggested language empowering the executive group to “direct and conduct the affairs of the association”. Mr. Fitzmaurice expressed the view that the procedure adopted must depend upon whether it was intended that the governments should have specific obligations under the statute. If so, they would hardly delegate to the executive group authority to draw up the statute.

Mr. Fitzmaurice pointed out that the provisions of funds for the association was something that the governments participating would have to decide—it could not be left to the executive group as an “internal regulation”. The Secretary doubted that an issue should be made of the source of funds. Two or three of the members could advance the money required and the contributions from the remainder could be nominal. Mr. Lloyd thought that a request for funds would frighten other potential participants. The Secretary suggested that the association have the power to borrow working funds from its members.

Mr. Lloyd said that an agreement with the Universal Suez Canal Company would be needed. Among other things it might lend the new association some of its staff. Mr. Fitzmaurice emphasized that CASU should do nothing which might prejudice the rights of the Universal Suez Canal Company. Mr. Beeley stressed that the Company was in a strong position. For example, its pilots would not agree to work for CASU on an individual basis. Therefore, relations with the Company were of fundamental importance. The Company would seek in the declaration some phrase protecting its position. Mr. Pineau added that there should be nothing in the statute which would tend to recognize the new Egyptian authority.

The Secretary stressed the importance of simplicity in the declaration. The meeting then went over the United States draft in detail and agreed upon the document [being] presented to the plenary [Page 535] meeting at 11:00 am. During the discussion, Mr. Lloyd said he was particularly worried over the fact that the declaration “funked” the question of whether dues should be paid to the association or not. The Secretary replied that the declaration would impose no obligation on any member; he saw no objection to mentioning the question of dues.

Mr. Henderson reported that he had just seen Foreign Minister Ardalan3 who told him that Iran would not be able to adhere to the declaration unless an article was included providing that recourse would be had to the UN if Egypt refused to cooperate. Mr. Pineau said that it would not be the role of CASU to represent its members at the UN. He accepted the fact that the participating governments could go to the UN if Egypt did not agree. Mr. Lloyd concurred with Mr. Pineau. The meeting agreed to language suggested by Mr. Pineau to the effect that one of the purposes of the association would be “to facilitate the application of any provisional solution of the Suez problem which may be adopted by the UN”.

Mr. Henderson said that he had had breakfast with the Pakistan Foreign Minister4 who surprisingly had been most friendly. The Foreign Minister took pains to explain that the speech he made yesterday had been necessitated by the internal political situation in Pakistan. He thought he could persuade his Government upon his return to adhere to a declaration along the lines discussed if the declaration was held open for subsequent signature. Mr. Henderson said he had also talked with the Turkish delegate who thought it essential that Iran, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Turkey all sign simultaneously. Therefore, Mr. Birgi wished the declaration left open for signature for a few days. Mr. Birgi said that he was discussing the problem with the Ethiopians in order to obtain their adherence. The Japanese Ambassador5 had informed Mr. Henderson that he was prepared to recommend participation to his Government, but that he would require a few days to get authorization to sign. The Secretary pointed out that the Scandinavian delegations also had to get additional instructions.

[Page 536]

The Secretary suggested that the plenary session of the Conference be asked to designate technical or legal people to work on the draft further.

The meeting adjourned to permit attendance at the 11:00 o’clock session of the Conference.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 774. Secret. Prepared by the U.S. Delegation, but the source text does not indicate a drafting officer.
  2. Not attached to the source text. Copies of a U.S. draft statute and U.S. drafts, numbered 1–5, of a declaration are ibid. The first four of these declaration drafts are dated at various times on September 19; the fifth, which is dated September 20, is presumably the version which was distributed at this meeting.
  3. Following the Conference, Henderson wrote a summary report entitled “Attitude Displayed During the Second Suez Canal Conference at London, September 19–21, 1956, by Dr. A.G. Ardalan, Iranian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Head of the Iranian Delegation to the Conference” containing a description of Henderson’s conversations with Ardalan. The report is attached to a cover sheet of a memorandum of conversation between Henderson and Ardalan on September 19. (ibid.)
  4. Henderson wrote a summary report containing a description of his conversations with Noon. The report is entitled, “Attitude Displayed During Second Suez Canal Conference at London, September 19–21, 1956, by Mr. Malik Feroz Khan Noon, Foreign Minister of Pakistan”, and is attached to a cover sheet of a memorandum of conversation between Henderson and Noon at breakfast on September 20. (Ibid.)
  5. Haruhiko Nishi.