160. Memorandum of a Conversation, Washington, February 26, 1957, 2:30 p.m.1


  • (U.S.)
  • The President of the United States
  • Secretary of State Dulles
  • Under Secretary of State Herter
  • Hon. C. Burke Elbrick, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • Ambassador C. Douglas Dillon
  • Ambassador Amory Houghton
  • Mr. James Hagerty
  • General A. Goodpaster
  • Lt. Colonel Vernon A. Walters
  • (France)
  • Premier Guy Mollet
  • Foreign Minister Christian Pineau
  • Ambassador Herve Alphand
  • Ambassador Louis Joxe
  • M. Pierre Baraduc
  • M. Jean Daridan
  • M. Emile Noel
  • M. Paul Parpais

[Here follows discussion of various aspects of European integration.]

The President then thanked Mr. Pineau for his explanation and said that he felt that the day this common market became a reality would be one of the finest days in the history of the free world, perhaps even more so than winning the war. Before they went on to other subjects, he would like to get in one statement—he understood that Mr. Pineau was to meet Ambassador Eban and he would like to repeat what he had said in the morning. He couldn’t believe there was anything more important than to get Israel to withdraw so we could support her future position and she would be able to get full rights in that area. As a corollary, we would see that other nations would act in accord with their obligations, that is to say Egypt, the Canal, etc. Whatever Mr. Pineau could do to convince Mr. Eban of this need would be a service to all.

The President asked whether Mr. Pineau had anything special he wished to bring up at this time. The Secretary of State then asked whether Mr. Pineau had read the Memorandum.2 Mr. Pineau said he had just begun to read it and he had two main remarks concerning the text; the first was that he felt that if we wished to present a solution acceptable to Israel, it would be advantageous to make the least possible mention of the armistice agreement. Mr. Dulles then said that he had just talked to Mr. Eban and expressed concern regarding the fact that there were some indications that they wished to consider the armistice agreement as null and void. If they took this position, a serious problem would arise in that this would restore belligerency to full vigor and it would be difficult to assert rights of innocent passage into the Straits of Aqaba. He did not know where we would be in regard to the boundaries which had been fixed by the armistice agreement. These were not political but de facto, and if the armistice agreement [Page 297] was considered null there would be only the 1947 agreement3 which the Arabs wanted and Israel did not. Mr. Eban was still talking with our legal advisers who saw dangers in considering the armistice agreement void. He agreed with Mr. Pineau, however, to the extent that the least reference to the armistice agreement in the Memorandum the more palatable it would be to Israel.

There was some discussion regarding the wording which was finally agreed to.

Mr. Pineau said he had his second point he wished to make. He thought we ought to give more emphasis to our desire to take advantage of the period of transition for peace negotiations which should be undertaken as soon as possible so as to give Israel the impression we were less trying to consolidate a past situation and more trying to create a new situation.

There was some further discussion regarding wording revolving around the words “permanent peaceful settlement” and finally the wording was agreed.

Mr. Pineau then said that he did not believe it would be wise to give Eban the impression that they were presenting him with a common ultimatum. If not, his task of rapprochement would be made even more difficult. He would like to see the President and the Secretary again after his meeting with Eban. He felt that if Eban wanted to change a few words here and there, that would not alter the substance, he should have a little latitude.

Prime Minister Mollet then said he felt it would be useful if Secretary Dulles would brief Mr. Pineau regarding his talk with Eban. Mr. Dulles then said that Eban indicated that he could see a way to solve the problem for the Gulf of Aqaba along the lines they had discussed on Saturday and Sunday4 but that was contingent upon an agreement, or common understanding, that the armistice still prevails and that there was no return to a state of belligerency. If there were, the right of innocent passage would disappear. With regard to Gaza he was disappointed with the results of his talks yesterday with Hammarskjold who continued to reiterate the legal position of Egypt in the Gaza Strip and that he (Hammarskjold) had no legal right to deny Egypt’s right of occupancy. Eban read the Secretary a statement that Hammarskjold had given him the previous night in this respect, and this statement seemed to the Secretary to be quite correct. Eban felt, however, it was negative and had asked Hammarskjold not to publish the statement. The Secretary agreed with Eban that it would have a [Page 298] bad effect on the situation in Israel if it were published. At that point, Eban suggested the possibility of a solution now covering Aqaba and to reserve for future consideration the problem of Gaza. Secretary Dulles did not consider this possibility from a legal standpoint. He saw no solution except for an Israeli withdrawal from both places. The Secretary told Eban that in the talks he had had with the French and the British on this matter that the French had come up with some new ideas and he hoped there would be an opportunity for Mr. Pineau to discuss them with Eban. He had not gone into the details of Pineau’s formula as he understood that the latter had a tentative appointment at four o’clock with Eban to present his ideas.

At this point there was some discussion as to whether Mr. Mollet should go to the talks with Eban. He felt, however, that if it appeared that he had broken off his conversations with the President to go to this appointment, it would present their discussion in a false light. Mr. Pineau then said he might see Hammarskjold two days later to see what could be worked out at U.N. level. Secretary Dulles then said that unless we can have considerable assurance of progress along these lines he felt that a resolution would be adopted in the General Assembly the following day. Mr. Pineau then said he would see what could be done.

[Here follows discussion concerning European defense.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Secret. Drafted by Walters. Another memorandum of this conversation by Elbrick is ibid.
  2. Reference is presumably to the memorandum, infra. In Elbrick’s memorandum of conversation, this memorandum is described as a “draft of a proposal which the French intended to take up with Eban at the meeting.”
  3. Reference is presumably to the partition plan for Palestine adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on November 29, 1947. The text of the resolution is printed in United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Second Session, Resolutions, 16 September–IB November 1947.
  4. February 24–25.