147. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • U.A.R. Requests for Major U.S. Economic Assistance


  • H.E. Dr. Mostafa Kamel, U.A.R. Ambassador
  • NEAPhillips Talbot
  • NEJohn R. Barrow

Following a discussion of the arrest of French officials and citizens in the U.A.R. (summarized Deptel 3158)1 U.A.R. Ambassador Kamel, with considerable emotion, said that he had received instructions which he regarded as “wonderful news” and the most significant turning point in U.S.-U.A.R. relations since the fiasco of the Aswan Dam. The Ambassador said that, on the basis of reports he had sent to his Government of a conversation with Mr. Walt Rostow of the White House staff, he had been officially instructed by President Nasser to state that the U.A.R. Government desires to rely on the U.S. Government for assistance [Page 355] in its economic development and in that connection is prepared to accept Mr. Rostow’s suggestions regarding (a) an international consortium to assist the U.A.R. with its development plan; and (b) a high-level planning advisor or advisors to help the U.A.R. with this activity.2 In this connection the U.A.R. also hoped that the U.S. would accede to the U.A.R. ‘s previous request for a multi-year PL-480 agreement.

The Ambassador stated that he felt the U.S. was being offered a unique opportunity to strengthen its position in a country which has considerable influence in both Africa and the Middle East and thereby to help prevent the penetration of communism into this area.

Mr. Talbot indicated he would communicate this information to interested U.S. Government officials.

In a subsequent conversation the Ambassador admonished Mr. Barrow to endeavor to prevent anyone from creating the impression that the U.A.R. is unstable. He said that the U.S. Government could be sure that the present Government of the U.A.R. would be in existence for a long time to come, but even if it were not, the U.A.R. had been and would continue to be a country of utmost geopolitical importance. He therefore felt it was in the U.S.’s own best interests to take advantage of the opportunity being offered, irrespective of its attitude toward the present U.A.R. Government.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 811.0086B/12–161. Secret. Drafted by Barrow on December 4.
  2. Telegram 3158 to Paris, December 2. (Ibid., 601.5186B/12–261) On November 23, the Government of the United Arab Republic had arrested several French diplomats and accused them of espionage.
  3. On December 6, Kamel personally informed Rostow of these two points. According to Rostow’s record of the meeting, Kamel made clear: “We were to understand this as a major political move by Egypt with respect to the U.S. and the West. Forces were moving very rapidly in Egypt and if we wished to keep Egypt out of dangerous hands we should respond as promptly as possible. Specifically, he asked that these two matters be taken as promptly as possible to the highest levels of the government.” Rostow also noted that he and Komer, who also attended the meeting, “concluded that Egypt is in bad shape; desperately needs help; and is prepared to pay some substantial political price in terms of Western orientation for prompt and sustained economic assistance.” (Kennedy Library, President’s Office Files, Staff Memoranda, Rostow, Walt W., 6/61–12/61)