In response to Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal Company in late July 1956, the United States, Britain, and France two conferences to which certain maritime states were invited in order to consider the proper reaction to the crisis. The first London Conference met from 18 to 23 August 1956.
The invitation was sent to all 24 states signatory to the 1888 Constantinople Convention, which regulated the administration and supervision of the Suez Canal, plus states that shipped considerable cargo through the Canal. Egypt and Greece (which was quarreling with Britain over Cyprus) declined to attend; but the Soviet Union and the representative of India tried to represent the views and the rights of Egypt. During the conference Selwyn Lloyd, Britain's minister of foreign affairs, managed to induce eighteen states, including the United States, to sign a formal declaration demanding the establishment of a new international agency, representing the interests of the canal users, to take over the administration of the Canal affairs.
The expected failure of a delegation to convince Nasser to accept the London Conference decisions and the growing signs of an imminent Franco-British military operation moved John Foster Dulles to call for a second conference, which convened in London on 19 September.
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