226. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State1

318. Delivered Secretary’s speech to Nasser 6 p.m., today.2 His reaction somewhat less satisfactory than had hoped. Had feeling he somewhat confused by general nature of approach and really did not understand significance of some passages. He asked many questions and Department telegram 3473 used to considerable advantage. His principal points of concern seemed to be refugees and territorial. He said Arabs would find it difficult to accept concept that refugees should be scattered with settlement in many separate places. There was considerable discussion about Negev with repeated references his part to Ben Gurion’s plans for settling 2 million additional Jews by developing Negev. I told him this impossible because of water situation. Even if Israelis had all of Jordan waters this not feasible and if Arabs could only see advantage of agreement for present plans for use of Jordan waters then certainly not even a small fraction of waters needed for such plans for Negev would be available.

I reiterated again my hope that caution would be used as regards press comment and my fear that editors might tend commit Egypt prior to real analysis of significance of speech. Pointed out that within realm of what is possible and feasible statement did not deny in any way what Arabs feel entitled to but that statement did in fact refuse Israel’s present primary aim, i.e., to obtain a permanent security guarantee of her present borders. He stated he felt there bound to be considerable criticism of statement but he would consider carefully what he could do.

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Greatly surprised when he suddenly said he wished discuss Morocco. Told me that Nuri of Iraq had taken initiative to call upon Arab States to attack France. He himself was going to respond that Moroccan troubles were not solely fault of France but entire Atlantic Alliance and that he would be critical of US, particularly re military equipment being used against North Africans. I told him of US efforts on this problem and fact that we now hope, that partly because of these efforts, situation might greatly improve. Reminded him that US can often not get credit for efforts they making, as to be effective our pressures must be accomplished secretly, just as had been the case of the British during his own Suez controversy.Nasser said he appreciates these things but frankly he was not prepared see Nuri Said become Arab champion on such issues. He asked if he had my permission to tell press that he had complained to me re Moroccan situation. I said certainly. Am reporting this extraneous matter as it may have bearing upon his decision re press treatment of speech.

In view of feeling that Nasser really did not understand significance of speech and other matter reported above decided take copy to Fawzi immediately thereafter and had Hart deliver copy to Ahmed Hussein.Fawzi, while not so admitting, obviously pleased with speech. He warned, however, that we must expect criticism, and that it was our job as professionals to try to keep this from affecting our thinking. He said no matter what happens we must continue to work together just as before.

Hart found Hussein slightly disappointed that speech not more specific. He feared USSR would take opportunity make specific promises support Arab position and expressed concern Communist penetration Egyptian press. He took initiative, however, to phone Mustapha Amin ofAkhbar to urge withholding any comment in Saturday edition. He was informed Nasser had already decided all papers should withhold comment at least until Sunday to await Israel reaction. Consider this decision defer press comment quite good development if it is maintained; it suggests Nasser not quite so pessimistic as he appeared. There no doubt, however, that he fears his own position would suffer if Egypt’s reaction were to appear soft in comparison that other Arab States, particularly in light current difficulties along border with Israel.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/8–2755. Confidential; Priority. Received at 4:19 a.m. Repeated to London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and Jidda.
  2. August 26.
  3. Printed as Document 214.