1. Memorandum of a Conversation Between Secretary of State Dulles and Secretary-General Hammarskjöld, Ambassador Lodge’s Apartment, Waldorf Astoria, New York, December 31, 1956, 1–3 p.m.1

Mr. Hammarskjold said that it was a day with some good news from him. He had gotten word that the clearing of the Canal was under full way and that a UN mission, ostensibly for UN social organizations, would be received in Budapest.

We discussed the Suez Canal matter and its financial aspects. I showed Mr. Hammarskjold a copy of a note I was prepared to send him pledging the US contribution2 and also an informal memorandum outlining certain understandings as to his policy with respect to getting a permanent settlement and also providing for repayment of the advances. [Page 2]Mr. Hammarskjold looked over both and thanked me for the prospective note with reference to advances. He made one or two minor suggestions as to the phraseology of the informal memorandum which I thought were acceptable and which I indicated in pencil.3

We discussed the basic problem of the permanent settlement of the Suez which he thought could probably be worked out on an acceptable basis but probably not by direct negotiations between the Egyptians, the French and the British as the feeling was still too intense.

We discussed the Israeli ship problems as being probably the most difficult, i.e., (1) the passage of Israeli ships through the Canal, (2) the internationalizing of the Gulf of Aqaba, and (3) the status of Gaza. Mr. Hammarskjold said he had just had a talk this morning with Mrs. Meir and that she had been somewhat less belligerent than theretofore. I said perhaps this was a result of the talk she had had with me on Friday. He said he suspected that something like that might have happened.

Mr. Hammarskjold said that he saw as a solution for the Israeli ships through the Suez a possible World Court opinion which he thought, if it supported the Israeli contention, the Egyptians might then respect. He and they did not consider that the UN Council decision of 1950 was really a judicial construction of the 1888 Treaty.

With respect to the Gulf of Aqaba, Mr. Hammarskjold agreed that it was an international waterway and thought that perhaps a provisional solution might be found through some occupation by the UNEF if this was necessary as it might well be to prevent a renewed outbreak of fighting between the Israelis and the Egyptians.

With respect to Gaza, he was rather barren of any basis for solution except that he did not find it acceptable that the Israeli should stay on to administer the area. Perhaps again UNEF would have to be resorted to.

I outlined briefly the US thinking with reference to the Middle East. He was somewhat cautious in his response saying that he would need to know more detail and study the matter more carefully. He felt that some move by the US could be helpful if it did not lead to an open contest for power in the area between the US and the USSR. He felt that some of the Arabs were sensitive to receiving aid from the US lest it put them under political obligations. He thought that some multilateral form of aid would be best. He indicated that our action could [Page 3]create a better environment for the solution of the Palestine matter, but felt that until this matter could be solved, the possibilities of unrest and of Soviet activity would persist.

John Foster Dulles4
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/1–257. Drafted by Dulles on January 2. The source text indicates that Ambassador Lodge was also present.
  2. The note was sent on January 2. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, January 21, 1957, pp. 105–106; or United States Policy in the Middle East, September 1956–June 1957, pp. 363–364.
  3. No copy of the original version of the informal memorandum has been found in Department of State files. For text of the final version, see infra.
  4. Macomber initialed for Dulles.