227. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State 1

2905. Following are supplemental notes on conversation with Nasser last night as reported in Embassy telegram 2899:2


Regarding movement of Egyptian troops into Sinai, it will be recalled that Gohar had mentioned it tentatively to Burns (Embassy telegram 2896).3 In talk last night I asked if he had appropriately informed Burns. He feigned surprise my question and asked why. I replied that such advice would seem obvious procedure in view of function of UNEF to maintain quiet in connection withdrawal non-Egyptian troops. Furthermore, irrespective of actual requirements, simple courtesy to General Burns as representative UN would have dictated prior consultation with him. Nasser said idea had not occurred to him; perhaps someone else in GOE had told Burns; he did not know.

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With further reference to movement troops into Sinai, I said this was new item on which I had no instructions but, speaking personally, seemed be another example of bad timing and method. Nasser had presented matter as normal development but to outside eyes move would unavoidably be connected with appointment of Gaza governor and unfavorable implications drawn.

Text Hatem statement mentioned paragraph 3 of Embassy telegram 2899 transmitted in Embassy telegram 2900,4 believe possible put to constructive use and would indicate some slight dent made in Nasser’s armor in our preceding conversation. However, to be noted that, although first reports indicate reception of governor in Gaza was peaceful, occasion was apparently used for large propaganda demonstrations contrary to my recommendation. Nasser maintained this had not been staged and that hour of arrival had purposely not been publicized so as avoid turbulence.
Nasser last night gave number of officers accompanying new governor as four rather than six as he had stated night before.
I did not make use of discretionary authority to mention resumption normal economic relations and possible economic assistance in context Gaza problem. My reason was that Nasser was obviously and deeply impressed by grave evaluation of situation as seen by President Eisenhower and introduction of idea of economic quid pro quo would certainly have had effect of diluting rather than strengthening impact of presentation. However, this would be useful card to play in more appropriate situation.
In stressing danger of miscalculation I reminded Nasser of previous warning which we had given him on October 28 which he had been inclined to take somewhat lightly. I hoped he would not make same mistake again. He said he remembered.
In contrast with his somewhat argumentative attitude of night before, Nasser last night gave impression, real or simulated, of person who had unwittingly become involved in difficulty which he found hard not only to meet but actually to understand. Part of this may have been mere pose after mischief done but also true that Nasser not infrequently does have tendency to leap before he looks. In any event, am convinced presentation did have sobering and therefore useful effect.5
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/3–1557. Top Secret; Priority. Received at 3:56 p.m. Repeated Priority to Tel Aviv and USUN.
  2. Document 224.
  3. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/3–1457)
  4. Not printed. (Ibid., 320.5780/3–1557)
  5. Telegram 3088 to Cairo, March 18, instructed Hare that since he had chosen not to mention to Nasser the possibility of the United States resuming normal economic relations with Egypt, he should consult with the Department before mentioning it to Nasser in another context. (Ibid., 674.84A/3–1557)