209. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Arab Republic to the Department of State1
3440. Haikal came in this morning to say had been disturbed by indirect reports that I was personally annoyed by his articles on my [Page 454]conversations with Nasser (Embtels 3337 and 3372)2 and he wished make clear that, although publication had been deemed necessary for policy reasons, no personal offense was intended. He also indicated this represented feeling of Nasser. Haikal added he had taken care only quote Nasser and not me since he was not informed of what I had actually said and, in any event, would have been breach of confidence quote me without advance agreement. If this had not been clear, he wished express sincere regret.
I told Haikal I was perfectly willing accept his explanation that no personal offense was intended but this was really beside point. Articles in question were extraordinary departure from normal usage which not only prejudicial in our case but which I had reason know had raised question in minds of other chiefs of mission here as to degree they could speak in confidence without danger of public revelation. Consequence was that by this infraction of code, I was placed in embarrassing position both officially and personally, regardless of what might have been intended.
Haikal said very sorry hear this, especially since he had tried avoid in his articles by differentiating between official and personal. He hoped I would not bear grudge. I replied he could put mind at ease on that score and that, despite incident, I was as determined as ever for improved relations but this did not mean damage had not been done; it had.
Haikal then launched into long explanation of why decision made publish articles, which, in summary, was that Nasser felt we had tied his hands by conversations on Lebanon and then used occasion attack UAR directly and through others. He had to free hands in order defend himself. Haikal also mentioned erroneous reports by American correspondents, including UP’s Landrey, re alleged refusal Nasser respond our requests to assist in resolving Lebanese crisis.
This gave me occasion repeat observation that Haikal and those who thought like him were 180 degrees off course if they assumed that we merely using Lebanese difficulty as means attack UAR. Our purpose now is preserve Lebanese integrity just as it was support Egypt in Suez crisis but, by same token that our action then was not anti-British or anti-French, it is not anti-UAR now. I suggested re-reading Lodge’s speech in SC in which he had made clear we obliged face facts as we saw them but at same time emphasize our desire for good relations with all Arab countries, including UAR, and expressed regret our positions on Lebanon in conflict. This was sincere statement and UAR making great mistake in not accepting it as such.[Page 455]
At end conversation, Haikal, contrary to what Amin had told us (Embtel 3420),3 said Nasser would probably want to see me before he leaves for Yugoslavia (shades of off-again, on-again Finnigan). He said date now advanced to June 27 and that meeting will be at Dubrovnik rather than Brioni. Added he would be member of small party accompanying Nasser and his family.