27. Memorandum of Telephone Conversations Between the President and the Secretary of State, Washington, July 30, 19561


11:29 a.m.

The Pres. asked how the Sec. is feeling about it, and the Sec. said all right. He is having a cable typed out and will call back in 10 minutes to read it to the Pres.

[Page 47]

11:44 a.m.

The Sec. called and said it looks as though the impression we got from Murphy at noontime2 that they were more moderate has given way to a stronger line they want to take. The Sec. read the cable of instructions to Murphy.3 The Pres. said that is our stand. We should not be indifferent to the rights of people who are invested in this. Egypt should operate the Canal efficiently and carry out its promise to those affected—show we are not indifferent but are not going to war over it. Say we are moderate but firm but not going to be hysterical and rush into it. The Sec. said the British and French want to use force not really because of the Canal situation primarily but because they feel this act should be knocked down or have grave repercussions in North Africa and the British position in other countries. The Sec. said if we called a special session of Congress with nothing to go on except what we have now it would be picked up as an effort to back French colonialism in North Africa etc. and the Democrats would make a political issue of it and would be a mess. The Pres. said he said when he had his meetings day before yesterday4 we have to find a way of using the Canal and efficiently. Notice should be served this is going to operate or else. We have to act right to nationalize (?)5—the Pres. recalled that Britain did it on steel.6 The Sec. said the concession to the Canal Company runs out in 1968 and the Treaty itself says rights go on irrespective of the lapse of the concession. The Pres. said he thinks the Sec. is right—insist on proper operation of the Canal and we must get a broader base for operating in the future—now we are in the position of just protecting someone’s private property.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, White House Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Bernau. During the morning of July 30, Dulles held a series of meetings with Department of State officials regarding the Suez situation and the instructions to be sent to Murphy. At 10:34 a.m. a meeting began, attended by Dulles, Hoover, Phleger, Prochnow, MacArthur, Aldrich, Rountree, Bliss, Bowie and Elbrick. Eisenhower’s call came during this meeting. (Dulles’ Appointment Book; Princeton University Library, Dulles Papers)
  2. Reference is to telegram 520 from London, Document 22.
  3. Reference is presumably to telegram 574 to London, infra.
  4. Reference is presumably to Eisenhower’s meeting with Hoover and Murphy; see Documents 15 and 16.
  5. The question mark appears on the source text.
  6. Reference is to the law adopted by the British Labour Government in 1949, under which the iron and steel industry was brought under public ownership.