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

385. I accompanied Senator Mansfield during a half hour discussion of Suez with Pineau this morning. Pineau said the French were disappointed with outcome of London conference because they felt there was not adequately clear cut reaffirmation of the principles adopted by the 18 powers at the August meeting. Mansfield pressed Pineau fairly hard in an endeavor to find out what ultimate French [Page 568] policy was if appeal to the Security Council should end in failure as a result of Soviet veto and if Nasser should refuse Suez passage to S.C.U.A. vessels. Pineau said it would then be necessary to send shipping around Cape of Good Hope, and that he would hope that a substantial portion, if not all the shipping of the 18 powers would then refuse to use the Canal. He said that if there could be concerted economic pressure by all possible means on Nasser he felt that a successful result could be obtained.

If united economic pressure could not be brought to bear on Nasser Pineau said he feared the only alternative would be negotiation of a compromise. Such negotiation if it took place could only be along general lines suggested by Bulganin. The end result would be dictated by the Soviet Union. Such a result, Pineau felt, would be catastrophic as it would firmly implant the Soviet Union as the dominant power in the Middle East and Africa. Pineau said that the vital thing now was to make sure that U.S. vessels paid their dues only to S.C.U.A. thus indicating solidarity between the U.S. and Franco-British positions.

It was apparent throughout the discussion that Pineau did not feel confident of full U.S. support for all out economic pressure on Nasser.

Mansfield told Pineau that he thought the seizure of Universal Canal Company by Nasser was illegal and that Nasser was totally untrustworthy. Mansfield further said that he favored all out economic boycott of Nasser. He told Pineau he favored U.S. economic assistance to Western Europe in case it became necessary to use the Cape route and that in his view such a system should not take the form of Export-Import Bank loans but should be grant aid. He further told Pineau this was the general opinion of a group of senators and congressmen which the Secretary had consulted some two weeks ago.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/9–2456. Secret; Limit Distribution—Suez. Received at 10:44 a.m. Repeated to London.