20. Letter From President Johnson to President Nasser1
Dear Mr. President:
I have carefully read your extensive correspondence with President Kennedy and am struck by the degree of mutual respect and understanding it revealed. I sensed also a genuine will to move forward in areas where we could, while setting aside and working to limit the impact of those issues where we necessarily disagreed. For my part I would like this sense of growing confidence on both sides to continue, and to forestall the misconstruing of each other’s policies which has marred our relations in the past.
In this vein I want to assure you personally that we are as determined as ever to carry forward policies of constructive cooperation, in the United Nations and out, with other governments of like intent. Thus I look forward to continued fruitful cooperation with your government and with the others of the Middle East and to exchanging views with you on our mutual interests.
I believe the main concern of leaders in all nations today must be to keep the clouds of war from forming. The nuclear scientist has added new and terrible dimensions to war, and only deep and abiding international cooperation and understanding can make nuclear science a peaceful instead of a military pursuit. You may rest assured that we remain opposed to nuclear proliferation in any area of the world.
Since it is inevitable that nations will disagree, we believe we must try diligently to make whatever progress is possible to settle issues in dispute. Meanwhile we must concentrate on expanding areas of agreement. I was heartened by the recent affirmation by Arab leaders meeting in Cairo of the doctrine that nations should compose their differences by peaceful means. We recognize the statesmanship that subordinated narrower grievances to the common good and engendered a climate of cooperation among the various Arab governments. We welcome the prospect of normalization in Yemen, of temperance in the Arab-Israel problem, and of increasing the Arab League’s potential for constructive cooperation.[Page 46]
So I hope that in the coming months we can work together to enlarge the areas of mutual interest and narrow those where we may disagree. In fact, I look forward to the day when we can meet in person. Meanwhile I would like to continue the frank and friendly dialogue that has already contributed to understanding between our governments. The next few years will be a strain on both of us, but the US and the UAR have so much to gain through good relations that we must both strive to maintain and expand them rather than letting our two nations drift apart.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Head of State Correspondence File, UAR, Presidential Correspondence. Secret. The letter bears no indication of the drafter. The text of the letter was transmitted in telegram 3968 to Cairo, February 27, which indicates that the text was received from the White House. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 1 UAR-US) A February 26 memorandum from Komer to Bundy notes that he had rewritten a draft sent with Rusk’s February 19 memorandum to Johnson (see footnote 2, Document 19).↩