234. Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Dulles in Washington and Secretary-General Hammarskjöld in New York, March 19, 1957, 9:48 a.m.1


The Secretary asked if H is getting off today. H guesses so. He will see what comes out of some cables. The Sec thinks it would be useful if he went, and H thinks so.

H said the chances of what the newspapers call “success” are close to zero, but nothing should be left untried. The Sec feels the situation is deteriorating in the sense the expectations which H and we had, and the Israelis had, at the time of their withdrawal are being diluted by the Egyptians. H agreed. And the Sec is afraid a situation is being created where Israel might feel they could resort to the use of force under conditions where it would be difficult to get a UN condemnation of them.

H said it is a little bit on the fantastic side and then spoke of psychology and speaking in brutal frank language. If Nasser is not a fool he will play with us and if he is a fool he can break up the whole game. H mentioned Hare has done a fine job. Sometimes one does not get anywhere in negotiating. H mentioned a cable from [Burns]2 and read it roughly. It was to the general effect that the situation in Gaza was satisfactory from the standpoint of the UN; that the UNEF was in evidence throughout the area and that the Egyptians’ presence was not generally noticeable. This is different from the story in the paper. The Sec said no doubt the news is influenced by the Israeli viewpoint.

The Sec said on the other hand he feels the Egyptians are anxious to reestablish the status quo ante. It is very basic in the US position and he expressed it on November 1 that out of this must come something better than the conditions which preceded it. H said he could not agree more. And the Sec went on: Egypt must cooperate or the whole effort of the UN might prove to be in vain.

The Sec mentioned sticking to Article 1 of the Charter re peaceful means in accordance with justice and international law. We have gotten the peaceful aspect but now there must be cooperation on the [Page 443] part of Egypt in applying the principles of justice and international law. And the continued assertion by Egypt of its right to exercise belligerent acts in the occupancy of Gaza is in consistent with the Armistice and finding better conditions. The Sec does not think Egypt can have it two ways: We can exercise belligerent rights but Israel can’t.

The Sec asked if there is anything we can do? H said no, but he promised Cabot if there is anything he will get in touch. He did say something re the financial situation.

The Sec said one of the important aspects which may be in Nasser’s mind is whether if he behaves respectfully he will come back again into normal relations with the US. H said he knows that figures in his mind. The Sec said he thinks our purpose is that he should (be thinking that way). That does not mean we will pay him an extravagant sum to behave properly but it means we would get back in normal relations re trade, blockage of funds and tourists. The Sec expects to talk more about it with the British in Bermuda.3 He thinks the basic problem the British must face is are they going to carry on political and economic warfare against Nasser regardless of what he does. If that is their purpose, it will be difficult to arrive at a solution. H mentioned difficulty in timing.

H said he talked with Mrs Meir for two hours and it did not add any new factor. The Sec said the same. H hopes he convinced her that within limits of what we can do we will do what we can. They must lend some cooperation also. The Sec agreed.

H guesses he will get away.

The Sec said he does not think we have yet marshalled the full weight of persuasion on Egypt, and, as H says, the question of timing . . . .4 The Sec said, as H says, while it will not become a success at this stage, he thinks H should go and it should not lead to a break because it is too early. We have not used all our ammunition. H said there is a long road getting around corners. The Sec said to Mrs M it would not be automatic. It took a long time to get them out, and it will take a long time etc. The Sec said to Mrs M you must be persistent and resourceful and don’t precipitate things. H said he took the same line. This is a new experiment internationally.

H said the cable from Burns indicated things are not too bad. The Sec asked if Mrs M spoke about the possible dissolution of the UNEF. H said cautiously. The Sec said she spoke positively about it to him. The Sec said that is a possibility that must be envisaged. H said it can [Page 444] never be left out of account. Unless reasonable working conditions covering fully their function are created for the UNEF, H does not think the Canadians will stay.

The Sec wants H to know we support him absolutely fully if he goes and he can speak with confidence that the US backs him up. H said he thanked the Sec, and if there is anything, the Sec can get in touch with Hare.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations. Confidential; Personal and Private. Transcribed by Bernau. A marginal notation on the source text indicated that it is a corrected copy. Another memorandum of conversation by Rountree, who could hear only Dulles’ side of the conversation, is in Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/3–1957. The Department of State transmitted a summary of this telephone conversation to USUN in telegram 725, March 20. (Ibid., 674.84A/3–2057)
  2. At this point, the source text shows the name “Bunche” typed and struck through, and the name “Burns” inserted by hand but also struck through. The cable was from Burns, as indicated later in the conversation, and not from Bunche.
  3. President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles attended a summit conference with Prime Minister Macmillan and Foreign Secretary Lloyd at Bermuda March 20–23. Documentation concerning U.S. participation in this conference is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181.
  4. Ellipsis in the source text.