Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Alling)

The Egyptian Minister called on Mr. Sayre2 today and said that he was interested in furthering the idea of closer commercial and agricultural relations between the two countries. As evidence of the interest of the Egyptian Government in the growth of commercial relations he pointed out that at the time of his appointment as Egyptian Minister the King of Egypt had issued a statement favoring an increase in such relations. Soon thereafter the then Prime Minister, Nessim Pasha, had granted an interview to the United Press [Page 9] further elaborating upon this idea. Now, the Minister stated, his Government was showing a further interest by appointing to Washington an Agricultural Attaché who had arrived yesterday.

The Minister pointed out that up to the present all of these gestures have come from the Egyptian side and he stated that he was afraid, unless the American Government responded in kind, that the Egyptians might feel their advances were being repulsed. He thereupon intimated that a public statement expressing the interest of this Government in increasing its commercial relations with Egypt would be most encouraging to the Egyptian Government and people.

Mr. Sayre pointed out that it was contrary to our practice to issue such statements and furthermore it was essential to bear in mind that the issuance of such a statement at the present time might hinder rather than help accomplish the purposes which both he and the Minister had in mind. In this connection Mr. Sayre stated that it was most essential to avoid giving any impression that a trade agreement with Egypt was likely of accomplishment in the near future since it was apparent that such an agreement was out of the question during the next few months. Mr. Sayre added that he did not wish either the Egyptian Government or people or the American people to gain a contrary impression.

The Minister then stated that he proposed to write a letter to the Secretary informing him of the appointment of an Agricultural Attaché and reviewing the various statements referred to above which had been issued by Egyptian officials. He said it would be most helpful and encouraging if in reply the Secretary could express his own interest in furthering American-Egyptian trade. Mr. Sayre assured the Minister that the Department would be pleased to have his views in this matter and that consideration would be given to preparing an appropriate answer. In reply to a query of the Minister as to whether the American Legation in Cairo could not express its interest in furthering American-Egyptian commercial relations, Mr. Sayre pointed out that this would be impossible since if such action were taken in one case it would be necessary to take similar steps with reference to numerous other countries.

  1. Francis B. Sayre, Assistant Secretary of State.