587. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Egypt1

1615. Egyptian Ambassador Hussein accompanied special Nasser emissary Mustafa Amin2 during call today on Murphy and Rountree.3 Amin said Nasser asked him convey to President following views. Nasser has given Soviets no promise re base rights in Egypt and has not responded to repeated Soviet urging have Egypt request Soviet volunteers. He had made personal and direct request for aid in connection with attack on Egypt only to US. He had refrained from public announcement this effect in deference Ambassador Hare and for fear embarrassing US Government. His only other request was generalized public appeal. Realizing Soviets trying take advantage his present difficult position, Nasser has urged Arab chiefs of state, through Amin during recent Beirut meeting, give credit for successful Egyptian defense firstly to Egyptian people and Arab bloc and secondly to UN. Nasser does not believe Soviet Ambassador Kisselev assurance USSR willing wage war on behalf Egypt. Nasser does not want Egypt become second Korea or excuse for third world war.

Nasser says sooner British and French withdraw the better for US-Egyptian relations. Amin believes Nasser suspicious British and French may stay “longer than they should” and mere presence Canadian troops dressed like British and speaking English might arouse incidents among uninformed Egyptians. Amin said he had word yesterday that Nasser believed salvage operation in Canal should be under UN not UK-France auspices and held UN forces should be exclusively on Israel-Egypt frontier.

Murphy said Nasser’s apparent hesitation on these and related points had been basis for deep US Government concern in recent days. Murphy and Rountree gave reasons why objections raised by Nasser appeared easily negotiable and urged Amin employ whatever influence he had dissuade Nasser from reluctance facilitate prompt establishment effective UN force in Egypt. Egypt first to gain from such action. Although Department not fully informed re outcome HammarskjoldNasser talks, preliminary reports not encouraging.

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Amin seemed agree objections re Canadian troops might disappear with proposed modification uniforms and added GOE appreciated helpful role Canada had played in UN.4 It was pointed out to Amin Egypt should recognize unusual safeguards and benefit dealing with UN, which above suspicion re appreciation Egyptian rights and sovereignty.

Egyptians raised again matter possible release at least some GOE frozen assets in US for purchase pharmaceuticals, and mentioned general question US freezing of funds. Department representatives replied matter of pharmaceuticals would be studied, but pointed out that frozen funds only one element of total problem solution to which would have to be by stages beginning with implementation present UN resolutions. Said meeting with President would be taken under consideration. Matter was left that another meeting of group would follow report by Hammarskjold on his visit to Cairo.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/11–1856. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Hoffacker (NEA/NE) and Rountree and approved by Rountree who signed for Hoover. Also sent Priority to USUN, to London, Paris, and Moscow.
  2. An Egyptian newspaper publisher and confidant of Nasser.
  3. The memorandum of this conversation by Hoffacker, November 18, is not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/11–1856)
  4. The Canadian Government proposed sending troops known as “The Queen’s Own Rifles”, who wore what was essentially a British uniform with U.N. badges. See Pearson, Mike: The Memoirs of the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson, Vol. 2, 1948–1957, pp. 261 ff.