62. Memorandum of Conversation0

MVW USDel MC/26

PARTICIPANTS

  • United States
    • The President
    • The Acting Secretary of State
    • Mr. Allen Dulles
    • Ambassador Whitney
    • Mr. Reinhardt
  • United Kingdom
    • Prime Minister Macmillan
    • Foreign Secretary Lloyd
    • Sir Frederick Hoyer-Millar
    • Sir Patrick Dean
    • Ambassador Caccia

SUBJECT

  • Middle East

The Acting Secretary stated that the problem for the British was that Nasser had yet to carry out his undertakings in the financial agreement with the United Kingdom. Mr. Lloyd said the British felt Nasser had enormously increased Kassim’s difficulty. It was agreed that as long as Kassim was a going concern, he should be supported. The British believed Nasser was a completely uncertain quantity. It was good that he was now anti-communist but they believed he must work his way. Dining with the devil called for a long spoon.

The President inquired whether any practical ideas had been developed for mediation between Kassim and Nasser. The Acting Secretary stated it was agreed that it must be an Arab exercise.

The President observed that if we could make Nasser more and more the object of hatred by Khrushchev the better off we would be. One of the troubles in the aftermath of Suez was that people all over the world were wondering whether the Soviet Union was going to get into Egypt. Nasser was not a character we respected. The problem here was degrees of disrespect.

Mr. Lloyd observed that Libya could be a stable area if Nasser were not intriguing there. The Prime Minister said that applied to the Sudan as well. The President inquired why we could not get some teachers into Libya where the Egyptians already had so many.

The Prime Minister asked why the Russians seemed ready to abandon the great asset they had built up in Egypt. Mr. Dulles thought the Russian timetable might be a bit out of gear. He had always believed that the Russians were trying to develop an advance through the Kurds [Page 218]and Iraq. If they succeeded they would have it made. They were now risking their position in Egypt in order to pursue this grand design. The President said that this was the Shah’s thesis. What the Russians wanted was a spearhead in the Middle East contiguous to their own territory. It looked to him that this was the likely answer, but he could not tell whether Kassim had any special relationship with the Russians. He was, however, more suspicious than were the British of Kassim who from the day he had murdered the King and Nuri Said had appeared to be a bad actor.

The Prime Minister said he thought that in general we were agreed on the short-term, although there might be a slight difference in emphasis. The President said we should try to bring Nasser and Kassim closer together if we could find the right mediator. Mr. Lloyd thought it was important that we have a working group to consider contingencies that might arise in Iraq, Iran and Kuwait. Sir Frederick noted that with respect to Egypt the U.K. had agreed not to ask the U.S. to hold back on the $13,000,000 counterpart but to agree to help the U.K. with respect to its mission problem in Egypt.

It was also important, said Mr. Lloyd, to keep Jordan afloat. Its collapse would not only damage Western prestige but would be most dangerous and involve Israel. The United Kingdom had searched its pockets and hoped the United States would do the same. The President thought it was strange that the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. King was coming here at such a critical moment in his country, to which Mr. Lloyd observed that he had had a rough time and it was good to get him out of the country. [1 line of source text not declassified]

The Prime Minister observed that Lebanon and Jordan had been a risky performance and that we had been lucky to get out as well as we did, but that it had stabilized the area somewhat. The President noted that it had been the kind of intervention which had not left a nasty aftertaste.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International Series, Macmillan. Top Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Reinhardt and cleared with Allen Dulles.