330. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Walmsley) to the Secretary of State1


  • Security Council Meeting on Suez
The Security Council will resume its discussions of the Suez matter at the request of the French on Monday2 afternoon. The reasons [Page 622] for the French action and their objectives are indicated in the attached (Tab A).3
We sent to USUN on Friday a telegram containing our preliminary reaction to the French request for resumption of Security Council consideration of the Suez matter (Tab B).4 In this telegram USUN was asked to dissuade the French from tabling a resolution and to propose as an alternative that certain Council members in their statements seek clarification from the Egyptians with a view to bringing the Egyptian declaration more fully into accord with the Security Council’s six requirements. There was suggested also the possibility that at the conclusion of the discussion Ambassador Lodge, as Security Council President, would make a statement summarizing the “consensus” of the Council, and if this was not possible, he would make a statement as United States representative. In the statement, Ambassador Lodge would take note of the question raised by a number of members and state his assumption that the Egyptian Government would wish to consider what clarifications it might want to make in response to the questions raised. In the meantime, the Security Council would remain seized. Mr. Dillon informed Alphand Friday afternoon of the substance of the above line, and Alphand called Paris to urge that an expeditious French response be made.

The French response was communicated to us at noon today. Alphand said that the French must submit a resolution to the Security Council which would seek the reopening of negotiations (Tab C).5 At the same time, the French were anxious to avoid polemics in the Council and not give to the Soviets an opportunity to appear as the sole defender of the Arabs. The French believe that the Soviets would have difficulty vetoing their resolution. Alphand said the French do not intend to table the resolution before receiving the views of the United States and the UK. The French intend to make available to us a [Page 623] copy of the speech Pineau, who arrives in New York Monday morning, intends to give at the first Security Council meeting Monday afternoon.

Yesterday the UK view was parallel to ours. They favored a consensus statement by Lodge in lieu of a French resolution. Coulson (UK) told Mr. Dillon that his government hopes to negotiate a settlement in due course with the Egyptians, and that injunctions against the Egyptians at this time and a Soviet veto of a French resolution would not be helpful. While the French have already made available their text to the UK, we have had no indication of the latter’s reaction to the resolution. The French have not ascertained the views of the Secretary General but intend to consult with him during the course of the day. While the Secretary General would have no choice other than to accept such an assignment if the French resolution did not draw a Soviet veto and were adopted, we believe he is reluctant to undertake further discussions with the Egyptians on this matter.

There are several possible courses of action open to us:
We could consult with the UK, the Secretary General, and others with a view to dissuading the French from introducing the resolution and accepting as an alternative our consensus procedure. In view of the apparent insistence of the French to submit its resolution, we do not believe that any further efforts on our part will change the French position.
We could suggest to the French that they submit the resolution but not insist on pressing it to a vote, pending further clarifications which might be forthcoming from the Egyptian Government as a result of questions which members of the Council would raise in their statements. Should the French be willing to accept this course, it would still be possible for the United States to make its summarizing statement as the consensus of the Council.
A third course would be to refrain from further efforts to dissuade the French from submitting a resolution and to abandon the idea of a consensus and undertake instead to persuade the French to alter its resolution. As a substitute for the present draft, we could suggest a revised resolution confined to a reaffirmation of the six principles and an expression of hope that further clarifications will be forthcoming from the Egyptians which will bring the Declaration more fully into accord with the six requirements.
  1. Source: Department of State, NEA/IAI Files: Lot 69 D 488, Suez Canal–United Nations Efforts for Settlement Canal Problems. Confidential. Drafted by Sisco; concurred in by Dillon. Tabs A, B, and C are not attached to the source text.
  2. May 20.
  3. On May 15, the Embassy in Paris reported that the French Foreign Ministry had officially informed the Embassy that the French Government would submit the Suez Canal question to the Security Council on May 20. The Embassy speculated that French motives probably included the following: “(1) persistent strong emotional feeling concerning Suez and Nasser (reflected most recently in Mollet’s last conversation with Secretary [see Document 318]); (2) domestic desirability of demonstrating every alternative exhausted before permitting French vessels to transit Canal (for which Treasury and shipowners already exerting strong pressure); (3) anticipated British deblocking of Egyptian assets; (4) effect of this dramatic step on survival of gravely threatened Mollet government. Last consideration may at least subconsciously have been decisive.” (Telegram 5841 from Paris, May 15; Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/5–1557)
  4. Reference is to telegram 879 to USUN, May 17, not printed. (Ibid., 974.7301/5–1757)
  5. The memorandum of the conversation between Dulles and Alphand on May 18 is ibid., 986.7301/5–1857.