89. Message From the Secretary of State to the President1

Dear Mr. President: We have just completed the first day of the Conference other than a formal dinner tonight.

The morning was spent in getting over procedural hurdles. This afternoon we started on the substance of the matter, and I made the initial presentation of the US position.2 This was the only full-scale speech of the day, and it apparently made a good impression, at least in some quarters, although I have no doubt that the reception in the Arab world will be bad. Von Brentano said, “We should have voted right after your speech and then we could all have gone home.”

Foreign Minister Unden of Sweden spoke briefly supporting generally our tripartite position. Other brief speakers were Portugal, Italy and Indonesia. The Indonesian Foreign Minister3 spoke in favor of the abrogation of international agreements on the ground that most of them did not adequately recognize human aspirations. I imagine that he was prompted more by Indonesia’s abrogation of its agreements with the Netherlands than by the Canal situation itself.4

I think we have gotten off to a reasonably good start although the Soviet and Indian delegations have not shown their hand, and their position will give a clue to whether there is a fair chance of getting an agreement with Egypt which could be accepted. There is increasing evidence that the British and French, as they study the [Page 216]logistics of their planned operation, are feeling the need for time for preparation.

Faithfully yours,

Foster Dulles5
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–LO/8–1656. Secret. Transmitted to the Department of State Priority as Dulte 4 from London, August 16, 6 p.m., which is the source text, with the instruction: “Eyes only Acting Secretary for President from Secretary.” The telegram was received at 3:36 p.m. A copy is in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles–Herter Series.
  2. Reference is to the statement made by Dulles at the second plenary session, which began at approximately 3 p.m., August 16. The text of Dulles’ statement was transmitted to the Department of State in Secto 8 from London, August 16. (Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/8–1656) A report on the remainder of the second session was transmitted in Secto 11 from London, August 16. (Ibid.) Dulles’ statement is printed in Department of State Bulletin, August 27, 1956, pp. 335–339.
  3. Roeslan Abdulgani.
  4. In February 1956, Indonesia abrogated portions of the 1949 Round Table Agreements (relating to Indonesia independence), signed by the Indonesian and Dutch Governments. On August 4, 1956, the Indonesian Government announced the repudiation of its debts to the Netherlands, which Indonesia had assumed under these agreements.
  5. Dulte 4 bears this typed signature.