256. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, September 22, 1956, 3:58 p.m.1


  • Security Council Action Regarding Suez Issue


  • Mr. J.E. Coulson—British Embassy
  • Miss Barbara Salt—British Embassy
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Hoover
  • NEA—Mr. Rountree
  • IO—Mr. Wilcox

Mr. Coulson, in charge of the Embassy during Ambassador Makins’ absence from the city, repeated the reasons which he had given Departmental officers earlier in the day for the UK proposal to request Security Council action on Suez. He said that they had information to the effect that the USSR planned to request a meeting of the Security Council at an early date. He also pointed out that after the London Conference a feeling had developed that the user countries ought to get into a better negotiating position with respect to Suez, and the UK believed strongly that it would be politically unwise to negotiate on this matter now except in a UN context.

Mr. Coulson pointed out that there were two objectives to the British move: (1) to get the Suez item on the agenda at an early date, and (2) to make arrangements for a meeting on October 2. He said that this would give the UK and other interested user countries an additional week to agree upon objectives and to prepare their tactics.

The Secretary said he thought it was sound to go to the United Nations. In this connection, he recalled a conversation he had had with Lloyd and Eden. The only difference, he said, was one of timing. The Secretary expressed the view then that it would be undesirable to rush to the Security Council because such action might serve to dissuade some states from joining the Users Association. Countries like Pakistan, Ethiopia and Iran might be disinclined to join if the matter is in the Security Council for that would serve as a good excuse. On the other hand, he agreed that it might work the other way and result in additional support for the Users Organization.

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The Secretary observed that it would have been bad to file the notice today (Saturday) inasmuch as a good many representatives at the Conference would not have known about it and would have been annoyed because they were not notified prior to any such announcement. If the UK could wait until Monday it would be even better than delaying the announcement until Sunday. In the intervening time they could let the other members of the Conference know about it. Moreover in that event, it would look as though the decision to go to the Security Council was made after and not during the Conference.

Mr. Coulson pointed out again that the UK was very much concerned lest the Soviet Union beat them to the Security Council. They felt this would put them at a disadvantage from the point of view of public opinion and of tactics in the Council. The Secretary replied that we did not have any information about the Soviet Union’s intention to call for a meeting of the Security Council.

Mr. Coulson then pointed out that the French had agreed to go along with the UK proposal and the British hoped that the US would be in a position to support their move. To this the Secretary replied that he thought it would be better for us not to go along with the UK—the US could be more helpful if the British and French would do it without our sponsorship, particularly since we did not know what the UK objectives in the Council would be.

In reply to a direct inquiry, Mr. Coulson said that he was not sure whether the UK planned to act under Chapter VI or Chapter VII of the Charter.2 Moreover, he did not have any information from the Foreign Office as to the objectives the UK might seek to achieve in the Security Council.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/9–2256. Secret. Drafted by Wilcox. The time of the meeting is from Dulles’ Appointment Book. (Princeton University Library, Dulles Papers) The Secretary arrived in Washington at 3:20 p.m., September 22, and proceeded immediately to the Department of State.
  2. Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter pertains to the “Pacific Settlement of Disputes”, Chapter VII to “Action With Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression”. See 3 Bevans 1161–1165.