201. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Arab Republic to the Department of State1

2444. Rome for McSweeney. Re Embtel 2434.2 Talk with Nasser covered wide range but in general centered around four themes: plots, relations with area states, situation in UAR and effect of recent developments on relations with US. Following deal specific points covered after Nasser’s introductory comment that he had slept all day and felt he could sleep through several more. This was not said to be amusing and was borne out by his haggard appearance and obvious difficulty in organizing his thoughts. No exuberance here this [time?]; just a very tired man. Conversation was consequently on heavy side although lugubriously friendly.

1. I opened by strong statement (Deptel 2421)3 pointing out inevitable consequences of absurd reports implicating us in alleged Saudi and other plots. I also noted that tendency of Nasser to seem to include us loosely in general charges of imperialism, and of press and radio to present US in unbecoming light were not helping any. I would not in due fairness go so far as to assert that this bore ear-marks of outright anti-American campaign but net cumulative effect was noxious.

Nasser characteristically counter-punched by saying would have preferred dismiss all charges of US covert action against regime as groundless in principle but fact that there had been clear evidence that secretly circulated pamphlets during elections last year were of American origin had put him on guard. However, he would also be frank to say that, although our name had been used by participants in both the Maraghi and Saudi plots, he was convinced that such allegations did not have foundation in fact.

He did not believe it and didn’t think people did either. He acknowledged however that publication of our official denial of involvement in Saudi plot had been banned because of “sarcastic” tone of Department spokesman.4 Regarding his speeches, Nasser said had deliberately tried keep US out although he recalled having slipped on one occasion by reference to “dollar”. He has also kept Turkey entirely out of his speeches.

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[Here follow paragraphs 2–8 in which Hare reported on the discussion of specific plots, and relations with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.]

9. Toward end conversation, I recalled previous discussions re improvement Egyptian and American relations and certain modest progress made. Also recalled benign policy we had followed re Arab Union as represented in both UAR and AU. Now we are faced with a new situation in developing relationship with UAR as distinct from separate policies for Egypt and Syria. New situations present both new opportunities and new problems. Question is how maximize opportunities and minimize problems. But in order develop policies achieve these purposes, it is necessary have sufficient degree visibility for political navigation. I had been glad hear certain reassuring statements just made by Nasser but I could not help but feel that very real danger continues to exist that emotional impetus generated in past few weeks could lead to action which would go beyond scope of mere reciprocation of either friendly or unfriendly acts of others with possibility that UAR could take on destructive rather than constructive aspect. I could appreciate that Nasser had endeavored exert restraint in his many public statements in Syria but he had been operating in highly charged atmosphere and, to be quite frank, situation had been created where viewed from outside, development of trouble in countries outside UAR, such for example as Jordan, could ipso facto be laid at his door. This was not good for him personally or for area and need now exists for him to break away from both political embraces and fisticuffs and take higher level and statesmanlike position.

Nasser took foregoing in good part but complained that other countries in area all acting in light domestic problems and trying use him for own purposes. I said we faced by same problem and necessary act wisely since otherwise we might find ourselves unwittingly at logger-heads. I suggested Nasser might use speech he scheduled deliver this afternoon to develop more constructive approach. He said would think over but that as matters stand he has no policy for action, just for reaction.

In taking leave, Nasser volunteered that he felt such exchanges useful. Yesterday morning he sent Mustapha Amin to say so again and also to confirm his intention to concentrate on domestic affairs in UAR and his desire for better relations with USG. He also asked Amin further explore matter of public position he might appropriately take with view to possible inclusion in speech today which Amin assisting draft. We discussed at considerable length but remains to be seen if to any avail since Nasser is natural counter-puncher and usually seems ill at ease in any other role.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786.00/3–2058. Secret; Noforn. Repeated to Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, Jidda, London, Moscow, and Rome.
  2. Telegram 2434, March 19, reported that Hare had seen Nasser the night before and would submit a detailed report. (Ibid., 786.11/3–1958)
  3. Telegram 2421, March 6, instructed Hare to see Ali Sabri or Nasser to deny any U.S. involvement in the alleged Saudi plot against Nasser. (Ibid., 786.00/3–658)
  4. A copy of this statement, March 6, is ibid.,NEA Files: Lot 59 D 582, United Arab Republic.