58. Editorial Note

On August 3, the Department of State advised the Embassy in Moscow of the difficulty encountered in convincing Great Britain and France to include the Soviet Union on the list of invitees to the Suez Conference and instructed the Embassy to ascertain as soon as possible what the attitude of the Soviet Union would be to the invitation that the British Government would be delivering to the Soviet Government perhaps on August 6. The telegram, drafted and approved by Murphy who signed for Dulles, indicated: “What I think Russians should know is that we have had very difficult time restraining our friends from quick direct action in defense of what they consider their urgent and basic rights and their standing in Middle East and North Africa. Russians will certainly understand dangers inherent in such a course which is still not excluded.” (Telegram 131 to Moscow, August 3; Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/8–356)

[Page 133]

The following day in response to these instructions, Ambassador Charles Bohlen reported that the British Government had already delivered the invitation to the Soviet Government the previous day so that he was unable to convey the United States perspective prior to Soviet receipt of the invitation. Bohlen added that he seriously questioned the approach contained in telegram 131 “which could only confirm to Soviets fact of serious division in Western camp over courses of action, and I believe would tend to stiffen Soviet opposition” to the terms of reference and composition of the conference. Instead, Bohlen proposed that he be authorized to tell Soviet officials that “rejection of Conference proposal by Egypt or the Soviet Union would cause situation to revert to one of extreme danger, to indicate that U.S. in such event would be disposed to back its friends in more direct action.” (Telegram 279 from Moscow, August 4; ibid., 974.7301/8–456)