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

1794. Reference Embtel 1790 March 7.2 Since sending our comments, Embtel 1683,3 on possibility Soviet participation in High Dam which again discussed by Trevelyan in cables sent London March 5 cited in reference telegram, we have been thinking about problem great deal and I have discussed it with both Nasser and Kaissouni. Nasser assures me GOE proposals for revision aides-mémoire not related to possibility Soviet participation. This possibility has, of course, existed from beginning and I have made it clear to both Nasser and Kaissouni in my personal opinion we would not and could not support an arrangement for financing High [Page 331] Dam which involved Soviet participation; that GOE, before entering into such an arrangement, would have to choose “one or the other”.

While we do not believe there is any chance of getting written commitment from GOE in this regard, for reasons indicated Embtel 1683, or of getting even oral commitment which would be binding for whole period of construction, I think it would be serious mistake to let this issue obstruct conclusion of agreement. After Western financing is once launched on exclusive basis, we will have opportunity of demonstrating to GOE advantages of continuing on this basis while, we can assume, Nasser is encountering some of difficulties which will inevitably develop in his relations with Soviet. Having told Nasser GOE must choose, we believe that, if GOE permitted Soviet participation at any stage, we would have to regard such action as indication GOE prepared abandon cooperation with West. Our policy toward Egypt would then require major revision in which Western financing of High Dam would have no place. By “Soviet participation” we mean Soviet contribution on a scale which would give project appearance of a joint Western and Soviet Bloc operation, i.e. Soviet responsibility in management, planning or engineering sectors, but not necessarily the purchase of some common items of equipment or materials in the Soviet Bloc with Egyptian funds on a commercial basis.

We believe there is every advantage in promptly discussing with GOE their proposals for revision aides-mémoire. Further delay is likely to re-awaken GOE suspicions regarding our intentions toward assisting with High Dam project or to be interpreted as exertion of pressure in favor of settlement of Israeli problem. If delay due to encounter by Department of additional basic issues in its study GOE proposals, we hope be advised soonest in order we may submit such observation as we believe might be useful.

Regarding Deptel 2076.4 There is no question that views given Trevelyan by Vice Premier represent governmental position which was taken after considerable discussion with Nasser.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 874.2614/3–856. Confidential. Received at 3:27 p.m.
  2. Byroade reported in telegram 1790 that Trevelyan on March 5 had sent two cables to the British Foreign Office “elaborating further his observations and views regarding United Kingdom and United States aid for High Dam with reference proposed revision aides-mémoire providing therefore. These repeated British Embassy Washington.” (Ibid., 874.2614/3–756)
  3. Document 127.
  4. See footnote 5, ibid.