98. Message From the President to the Secretary of State1

Dear Foster: I have just received your personal telegram to me, dispatched last evening,2 and your cabled copy of the text of the agreement.3 I should think that if Nasser has any disposition whatsoever to negotiate this difficulty, you will find your paper fairly acceptable except possibly for that part in 3A which prescribes the duties of the Board. The paper apparently contemplates that the Board shall do the actual “operating, maintaining and developing of the Canal.” Nasser may find it impossible to swallow the whole of this as now specified. On the other hand, I realize that you may have already written into the draft the minimum position that our British and French friends feel they can take.

So far as we are concerned, I see no objection to agreeing to a Board with supervisory rather than operating authority. Of course the authority for supervision would have to be clear, and the contention could be made, therefore, that there is no real difference between the two concepts. I think, however, that if we should get something like one of our corporate board of directors, with operating responsibility residing in some one appointed by Nasser, subject to Board approval, we should be establishing an organization which could achieve the ends we seek.

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Under such a system I realize that your “Arbitral Commission” might become very busy in settling disputes between Nasser and the Board, but as long as the Canal operated effectively this would be a detail.

Other than expressing the hope that the results of the conference will not be wrecked on the rigidity of the positions of the two sides on this particular point, I have no other comments to submit. Your document looks extraordinarily good to me.

With warm regard,

As ever,

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/8–1956. Secret. Transmitted to London in Tedul 13, August 19, 2:21 p.m., which is the source text, with the notation: “Eyes only Secretary from Murphy Acting. President sends following message, dated August 19. References mentioned first paragraph are Dulte 10 and Secto 20. Latter passed to President at request Mr. Hoover.”
  2. Document 94.
  3. Secto 20, Document 95.
  4. Tedul 13 bears these typed initials.