Mr. Hassan Sabri
al-Khouli, Personal Representative of the President of
Donald C. Bergus, Principal
Officer, U.S. Interests Section, Cairo
I lunched for two hours with Mohamed
Riad at the Waldorf. He was eager to know the results of
my consultation in the Department. I reviewed various conversations and
said it all boiled down to the conclusion that the United States
Government hesitated to play a more active role in seeking a resolution
of the crisis as long as the Arabs were unprepared to face up to the
problem of belligerency. He was keenly disappointed at this.
The conversation continued but we kept coming back to this point. He said
that the US attitude made it hard for those in Egypt who were doing
their best to improve US–UAR relations
and cited his efforts on behalf of the American University, Cairo
American College, etc. I said that the future of these institutions and
other cultural relations would be meaningful only if they were jointly
recognized as worthwhile. He agreed.
He was not responsive to questions as to how far the Arabs intended to
push the Tito proposals. He waffled as to current Arab and Russian
attitudes toward the Dobrynin-Goldberg
resolution. He did say that as a result of his recent visit with his
boss to Moscow he could assure me that the Soviets were not interested
in continuing the present situation. They had made it clear that they
would like a settlement. The conversation ended on a friendly but rather
mournful note. Mohamed was sure
that his government would be very disappointed.
I then repaired to USUN where I reported
the foregoing to Ambassador Meyer and Mr. Thatcher. Ambassador Meyer
asked me to accompany him to the General Assembly. In the Delegates'
Lounge we encountered several members of the UAR Delegation including Ismail Fahmy and Hassan Sabri al-Khouli. Ambassador
Meyer talked with Ismail Fahmy. I had a fairly lengthy private
discussion with Hassan
Hassan Sabri said that Mohamed Riad had briefed him about our
luncheon conversation. He would not pretend to be pleased but neither
was he particularly disappointed. He recognized that it would be a long
time before the Middle East crisis was resolved. He said that the
Israelis could occupy Sinai for months, years, even decades. He felt
that over the long run world public opinion would turn against Israel as
it continued to expel people, blow up Arab houses, etc.
Hassan Sabri returned to his
theme that US–UAR relations were more
important than the Arab-Israel problem. He said he wanted normalization
as quickly as possible. He said he had full authority from President
Nasser to work for
normalization and that I should not hesitate to raise any problem with
him in this regard. He said that Nasser's victory over the forces headed by Field
Marshal Amer would
facilitate the improvement of relations. He said that relations among
peoples overshadowed political crises. He cited in this connection the
lasting impact that Ambassador and Mrs. Battle had made on the Egyptians. He said the UAR wanted the return of dependents,
resumption of TWA flights, and as much cultural exchange as possible.
For the first time since the crisis, he spoke favorably about a
resumption of diplomatic relations. He came as close as an Egyptian can
to requesting assistance in arranging a meeting between the UAR Foreign Minister and Secretary
I said that in Washington I had had a couple of meetings with an Israeli
friend. The Israeli position was that while they would insist on
recognition of Israel's rights as a full-fledged member of the Near
East, they had no desire to humiliate Egypt. They would not accept a
settlement which did not include their right to use the Suez Canal. They
felt that in direct conversations with the Egyptians, modalities could
be worked out whereby this could be done without threatening the
existence of the Cairo regime. The Israelis had no fear about their
capability for defending themselves from their Arab neighbors. At the
same time, they were tired of war and wanted something better. Hassan
Sabri asked regarding the source. When I said it was the
Minister-Counselor, he said, “Why not the Ambassador?” I said the
Ambassador had a slipped disk. Hassan
Sabri said that improved US–UAR relations were essential to creating confidence between
Israel and the UAR.
1 Source: National Archives and Records Administration,
RG 59, Central Files 1967–69,
POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Confidential.
Drafted by Bergus.