77. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1

310. Eyes only for the Secretary. Charles Malik suddenly asked to see me this afternoon. This noon Egyptian Ambassador2 had brought him personal message from Nasser. Nasser asked him urgently transmit to Secretary of State following message:

He, Nasser, cannot assent any solution of Suez problem that would impair Egypt sovereignty or dignity;
Egypt therefore cannot accept international operation canal when other canals and waterways are not subject such control;
He, Nasser, would be willing give most explicit guarantees efficiency of operation, reservation of revenues for necessary expansion canal, and freedom of transit;
He would be ready explore with other countries problem maintaining and increasing efficiency canal operations;
In larger conference he would be glad negotiate new international convention regarding canal based 1888 convention.

Egyptian Ambassador in transmitting this message to Malik for re-transmittal to Secretary added that he thought Malik should know that [in] case force were resorted to, Egyptians would resist to end and would destroy installations of canal and western pipelines in other Arab countries would be destroyed. Egyptian Ambassador said he did not know precisely what was message British Ambassador had brought Chamoun from Eden this week but he understood there was phrase in there about “fair international operation of canal”. Egyptian Ambassador thought exploration that phrase might lead to mutually satisfactory compromise.

Malik says he told Egyptian Ambassador he would transmit message to Secretary but made no commitment as to his recommending its consideration. He did say to Egyptian Ambassador that he advised Nasser that if he was going take this line in his speech on August 12 he explain Egypt’s attitude in words of humility and sober simplicity, and without attacks on west.

Malik then asked me to transmit to Secretary following message and recommendation. Although he personally liked Nasser and understood reasons for some of his actions and applauded some of his reforms, it was not in interest of peace or western civilization that [Page 185] Nasser’s government should remain in control of Egypt. This was his profound conviction and recommendation to the Secretary.3

  1. Source: Department of States, Central Files, 974.7301/8–1056. Top Secret; Priority. Received at 6:38 a.m., August 11. Repeated Priority to London.
  2. Abdelhamid Ghaleb.
  3. In telegram 177 to Beirut, August 11, drafted by Wilkins and approved by Rountree, the Department responded: “You may inform Charles Malik we appreciate his conveying message from Egyptian Ambassador and thank Malik for giving us benefit his own views.” (Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/8–1156)