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

355. Conversation with Fawzi night before last covered number of matters which being reported separately. In general conversation that followed after completion my specific items he stated that some things must be encouraging to me. Certainly we should be pleased to see drastic action taken last weekend re some of the worst leftist elements in the press. (It will interest Department that one of reported reasons for action re press was Nasser’s displeasure that they overplayed and sought to put more into his possible visit to Moscow than he desired.) Stated in this connection he considered it more and more important that Nasser be invited to United States if possible without much delay. Certainly they hoped for an invitation [Page 436] before the tentative time set for Nasser’s Moscow visit early next year. I replied that this matter to which I had given much thought as I knew President and Secretary would be delighted to see such a visit take place under appropriate timing and atmosphere.Fawzi then speculated as to whether invitation delivered by Nixon (as rumored here in press) would be in time and finally decided perhaps it would be.

In my second meeting with Fawzi (after he had talked to Nasser by phone re world situation)Fawzi raised matter again and said he wished to correct impression given me in our first meeting as regards timing. (I gathered matter had just been discussed but do not know whether at Nasser’s or Fawzi’s initiative. Perhaps it came up in connection Nasser’s expression concern to Fawzi re Secretary’s statement on Soviet arms reported Embtel 345.)2

Fawzi went on to say that they now felt timing of invitation very important and hoped, if United States agreeable,Nasser should visit States sometime that invitation could be issued without delay. I stated as he knew these matters difficult to fit in President’s schedule and our invitations normally included a suggested time for visit if convenient for invitee. Did he have any suggestions in this regard, particularly in view of Nasser’s reported feeling he unable to leave Egypt until sometime after anticipated change in form of Government in January?Fawzi stated that timing of invitation was what was important now rather than actual time of visit. If we agreed he would suggest a communication from the President indicating a desire to have the Prime Minister visit United States at time to be mutually agreed later. Stated that if we worried about President’s schedule, he could make this kind of approach without concern that actual visit might be this year and that Nasser’s reply could be one of pleasure at invitation and acceptance, leaving vague actual timing. Additional probing on timing of invitation and new apparent urgency from their point of view elicited only remark that it probably best invitation did not come for “about ten days—but as soon as possible thereafter.”

I closed conversation by indicating I certain Washington would be highly interested what had been communicated to me. He stated [Page 437] he realized I could not on my own give any indication but hoped we would consider matter carefully.

Must confess do not know what has caused this note of urgency on their part for invitation. Considering however believe it in our interest find some way follow through on Fawzi suggestion. Realize that formal open-handed invitation from President very unusual and that problem further complicated by fact that invitation worded “next spring” or “early next year” would give appearance of competing with Kremlin. Useful alternative of formal invitation might be letter to Nasser from President stating he has long felt it would be useful have personal exchange of views in United States on matters of mutual interest and that he is hoping that if Nasser also thinks this a good idea he will bear the suggestion in mind and communicate with the President at a later date when they would fix a mutually acceptable date.

We would not of course expect deliver letter until immediate situation on borders has quieted down.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.74/9–155. Secret. Received at 8:05 p.m.
  2. According to telegram 345,Fawzi informed Byroade on August 30 that “Nasser quite upset over report that Secretary stated today’s press conference that if Government of Egypt should receive arms from Soviet Union this would badly affect U.S.-Egyptian relations, etc. Stated that if this report were correct, he considered it a most unwelcome public approach on one of his principal problems.” (Ibid., 611.74/8–3055) On August 31,Dulles informed Byroade “I made no statement with reference to Egypt receiving arms and when asked what countries might be involved in possible Soviet arms I refused to answer.” The Secretary also told Byroade to treat this report as a “personal message from me to Fawzi.” (Telegram 415 to Cairo;ibid., 774.56/ 8–3155)
  3. The Department responded on September 3 that “We do not believe that invitation should be extended to Nasser at this time. Public knowledge of US invitation to either Egyptian or Israeli Premier prior to acceptance and implementation of Burns proposals re Gaza would give impression US was partial.” (Telegram 442 to Cairo;ibid., 611.74/9–155)