379. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Secretary of State, at Geneva1

15. Believe last night’s discussion Nasser profitable. My general purpose was to try put in better perspective nature your concern re [Page 694] developments in Middle East and Africa2 and to urge most strongly that he on his part should see advantages of early move on settlement with Israel.

Told him I found you fully familiar with all aspects of problem here. Frustrations he had felt at what he termed lack of response on arms from us had [not?] been due to inattention to his problems. On contrary you held very strong view based upon intense study of area over long period of time that only salvation for Middle East was settlement of Arab-Israeli problem on peaceful basis. You had not felt injection from any source of arms in quantity could further that cause but that resulting tensions would only make settlement more difficult to achieve. If there had been difficulties it was only because we were dedicated to a principle we believed right and best for Egypt as well as all of us and not because we were insensitive to his desire for greater security which we fully shared.

I told him we had no punitive feelings toward him and that he must understand our concern went far beyond one specific arms deal. In fact we less concerned immediate dangers inside Egypt under his management than elsewhere in area where there were already weak and leftist-ridden governments. In view of this concern, he must not feel that question of our relations depended entirely upon acts by US. We were willing to proceed in full cooperation with him to extent allowed by public and congressional opinion as long as we convinced he would cooperate wherever possible against spread of Soviet influence through Middle East. This not only meant inside Egypt where he had direct control but also in refraining from acts that would further arouse anti-Western feeling or boost Soviet influence in weaker states around him. Also we hoped for his cooperation in seeking ways reducing great danger of early hostilities in area. Further we firmly believed settlement Arab-Israeli controversy more important to Egypt and area as a whole now than ever before. With his new strength we hoped he would adopt statesmanlike approach and be willing discuss such a possibility without delay. I said it impossible to separate High Dam, from a purely practical viewpoint from state of affairs that would be existent here over next ten years i.e. war or peace question of necessity for large scale military expenditures on part of Egypt etc.

[Page 695]

As regards tactics of settlement told him I speaking without directive from you but my own feeling was that it would be to his advantage if we worked together here rapidly to see if general understanding could be reached as to what might be practical terms of settlement. This would allow US to proceed from strength in trying to convince Israel she should make concessions. If through this approach problems could be reduced to one or two major items (which I thought possible) we would then be in a position behind him and could perhaps through intensive effort cause Israel to begin to narrow the gap between our positions and her own.

In the two and one half hour discussion following points of interest appeared:

He would be willing at any time, on highly secret basis, discuss with me specifics of settlement. If he and I could handle major aspects,Fawzi could be brought in on details.
He agrees that internal dangers of communism are increasing in Middle East generally, although he not quite as concerned as we re Syria.
He agreed to exert moderation on press primarily because of its effect on number (2) above. As matter of fact he had already taken steps this direction during my absence.

Intra-area arrangements with Soviets had not progressed as far as assumed. Egypt not as yet a source of arms to Syria and Saudi Arabia. Syria a very poor country and had little to offer Soviets commercially. Syria wished arms from Egypt but could not pay. He did not see that Egypt had resources to provide arms, for which she had to pay, to Syria free of charge. Saudi Arabia also in quandary and probably passing through crisis stage with us. He thought we should bear in mind that one factor here is that Saudis do not like to see much greater strength in Iraq. Saudi mission, accompanied by Egyptian, now in Western Europe seeking arms. He felt they were going through somewhat same cycle that he had done, and that they would not be able to obtain the heavier types of equipment they wished. He, only last week, advised them that it probably better in view of intense reactions to Egyptian-Czech deal that they [not?] try to deal with Soviet Bloc. He therefore advised they try again in U.S. He thought that they probably would not obtain satisfaction from U.S., partly because we would think their demands excessive as regards their capabilities. He then envisaged they will turn back to him and offer to pay him in foreign exchange for arms. Stated this would put him in a quandary which he would find it difficult to refuse. I told him general nature our difficulties with Saudis this subject.

Saudi troops not to be “stationed” on Egyptian soil as I previously understood. Some would come for joint maneuvers but he proposed to let no foreign troops, even Arab, be stationed in Egypt in peace time.

He hoped coming period would be one of less tension with America. He was not going to ask for arms; therefore that irritant had been removed. He understood we wanted to strengthen the north but hoped pressure would not be applied for new adherents at this stage. Told him I thought this our position but knew that others [Page 696] felt strongly otherwise. I certain if general conclusion were ever reached that Egyptian cooperation impossible then very quick attempt would be made obtain additional adherents. This he took in understanding way.
He and Minister of Finance Kaissuny were about only ones holding out for World Bank in connection with Dam. He felt this most practical way of proceeding but there was considerable feeling his other advisers that World Bank for one reason or another would only stall and delay. Only alternative he mentioned was Western consortium.
Now that Hussein had asked Secretary about wheat3. he hoped we could be helpful. He somewhat irked at Hussein as he had told Hussein not to raise subject with you. He concerned regarding U.S.-Egyptian relations and wished not to ask us for anything we would have to turn down because of effect upon his associates.
He did not know what we would do regarding economic aid in future. If we could assist Egypt he hoped our assistance could be turned without delay towards preparations for High Dam. He volunteered that if Egypt undertook this project she could no longer afford to devote her resources to some of the other programs on which we were now assisting.

In summary would say I found Nasser more conscious of true nature our concern and apparently willing to make more of an effort improve our relations. His attitude with visiting Congressmen yesterday pointed decidedly in this direction.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/11–255. Top Secret; Priority; Limited Distribution. Received at 6:06 p.m. The source text is a copy sent priority to Washington as telegram 865. Repeated to Beirut, Damascus, Amman, Baghdad, Jidda, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Tripoli, and Benghazi.
  2. Byroade was present at Dulles’ October 26 meeting with Macmillan (see Document 358). He was also present, according to the Secretary’s Appointment Book, at two other meetings with Dulles on the Middle East in Paris on October 26. The first session began at 9 a.m. and included Lawson,Russell,MacArthur,Merchant, and Dillon. The other meeting, which started at 12:25 p.m., included Russell,MacArthur, and Lawson. According to Dulles’ Appointment Book,Byroade met once again with the Secretary and Russell in Geneva at 10 a.m., October 29. (Princeton University Library, Dulles Papers) No accounts of these meetings have been found in Department of State files.
  3. See Document 341