37. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

579. For Acting Secretary from Murphy. Paris eyes only Ambassador from Murphy. At restricted session July 31.2 I informed Lloyd and Pineau that Secretary planned arrive London tomorrow. Both expressed pleasure. We agreed to state in reply to press queries that possibility Secretary’s joining meeting always contemplated; his trip did not mark any dramatic new development.

Remainder meeting devoted to discussion communiqué transmitted Deptel 593.3 Both Pineau and Lloyd expressed vigorous opposition.

Pineau stated he had shown previous draft, Embtel 547,4 to Coty and Mollet yesterday. Both thought it weak. Dept’s text even weaker, and he believed French Government would not wish ascribe [subscribe] to it. Pineau declared numbered paragraph 2 failed condemn Egypt’s action vigorously enough. Regarding conference, he said that if US Government suggestion of basing it upon Convention 1888 adopted, it would be necessary, in opinion French legal experts, to invite both East and West Germany. Successive [Successor] powers to Austria/Hungary would include Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Poland and Hungary in addition to Austria. Conference with these participants could not be expected to agree to satisfactory international operation of Canal. France realized USSR might propose meeting [Page 73]with even less desirable participants. US Government is suggesting that UK and France issue invitations while it prescribes who should attend, time and place. France would much prefer single inviting country, namely UK, which would select other participants. Conference would be expected to draw agreement for operation of Canal which could then be submitted to second, larger meeting.

Selwyn Lloyd said he largely shared Pineau’s views. Regarding basing conference on Convention of 1888 he mentioned difficulty determining successor states. If conference broadened as suggested by US to include certain trading and maritime nations, it would be almost impossible to draw line and matter would probably end up in General Assembly. Draft communiqué discussed yesterday purposely spoke only of principles of Convention 1888, since, in British view, Convention itself out of date. London preferred as site for conference. Intent was not to place Canal problem before some form of international tribunal but to mobilize responsible body of international opinion behind concept of international arrangements for operation of Canal. Regarding numbered paragraph 2 of US draft, condemnation of Egypt not as strong as desired. Also, British attach greatest importance to unequivocal statement regarding international control. While US wording does not exclude this possibility, it is not specifically provided for.

I replied in substance as follows:

US, of course, does not recognize East Germany and we do not believe that possibility attendance by East Germany represents serious danger. USSR would be included but might well decide not to attend if East Germany not invited. This would be all to the good. We doubt that question of successor states to Austria/Hungary raises serious problem. We would include only Austria. We see many advantages in insisting upon continued validity 1888 Convention. Not logical to argue that only principles still valid while Convention itself no longer in force. We question whether stronger language in a communiqué is desirable. Present text makes clear our views on Egypt’s actions without resort to emotional language. While wording of numbered paragraph 2 does not specifically provide for international operation of Canal, we believe it adequately meets British views on this point. Purport of paragraph is that present situation unacceptable and that some other arrangement must be made. Regarding participants, US is suggesting not only signatories but other main users of Canal. We fail to see any special magic in International Chamber of Shipping. In concluding, I agreed bring British and French views to Secretary’s attention prior next meeting.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–LO/7–3156. Top Secret; Priority. Received at 5:22 p.m. Repeated to Paris.
  2. The fifth tripartite meeting began at 4 p.m. (London time) July 31 and, while in plenary session, dealt primarily with the Canal dues and evacuation questions. Murphy explained that he had not yet received detailed instructions from Washington on these subjects. Following this discussion, Lloyd, Pineau, and Murphy held a restricted session. Other accounts of the fifth meeting are in British Foreign Office, “Record of Meeting Held in the Council Chamber, Foreign Office, at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31, 1956” and “London Tripartite Conversations,” pp. 4452 (both ibid., Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 724); and telegrams 578 and 574 from London, July 31 (both ibid., Central Files, 974.7301/7–3156).
  3. Not printed; for text of the Department’s proposed communiqué, see Document 32.
  4. Not printed; for text of the “First Redraft of Communiqué,” see ibid.