200. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic 1

6049. Kamel called on the Secretary April 1 to appeal for immediate issuance of PA’s under current Title I agreement. Jernegan attended. No other memcon will be prepared.

Secretary said he hoped for another meeting soon when he would be in position to discuss US–UAR relations across the board officially and formally. Meanwhile, present meeting gave him opportunity to consult Kamel informally on ways to reverse distressing trend in US–UAR relations. One area of possible improvement was that of arms that UARG had said publicly it was giving to Congo.USG sensed growing concern from neighboring states about their involvement with Congo rebels. Perhaps UARG concern was also growing. Problem of blocking arms infiltration into South Viet-Nam made USG particularly sensitive to arms infiltration into Congo. USG had told all parties of its hope GDRC would maintain active contact with other African states and with OAU in interest of resolving situation. USG wanted to be able to concentrate its aid to Congo in fields of economic and social development; it hoped Congo would not be drawn into intra-African strife or East-West cold war. It seemed to Secretary that provision of aid to rebels was not a very rewarding activity and created difficulties for USG efforts to rebuild relations with UAR.

Kamel responded with his familiar case for freezing Arab-Israel dispute and reactivating UAR-US cooperation. He said he felt gravity of situation required him to make a frank, formal, and carefully studied presentation. He felt that UAR-US relationship required personal attention of Secretary and President. (Secretary assured Kamel he and President had given considerable time and thought to this subject.) Kamel said problem was, not to assess blame, but to devise workable formula for normalizing relations:

1)
USG should frustrate Israeli efforts to take Palestine issue out of icebox. Israel did not need arms since UN Charter and US commitment against aggression were adequate protection. Diversion of Jordan headwaters would take years at best. Kamel detected that many Americans mistakenly viewed Arab-Israel conflict as central issue in Near East, whereas real issue was how to preserve Near Eastern neutrality and [Page 429]independence. As sincere friend of US, Kamel appealed to USG not to provide arms directly to Israel.
2)
USG should resume full economic cooperation with Egypt. From his January meeting with Secretary, Kamel had understood PA’s for amounts remaining under current Title I agreement would be issued. So far no action had been taken. Kamel understood difficulties posed USG by Congo situation, but people of Egypt must eat. On their well-being hung stability of whole Near East. Kamel appealed to USG at least to provide urgent Egyptian needs under CCC or Title IV and begin negotiations for conclusion of new Title I agreement.

Kamel questioned identification of Congo as critical issue in UAR relations. His reporting had given Nasser full understanding of US position. As far as Kamel knew, UARG was no longer providing arms to rebels. USG could hardly expect UARG to provide affidavit to this effect.

Secretary replied that, out of respect for Kamel’s dedication to US–UAR cooperation, he wished to convey to Kamel, for his personal information only, full appreciation of problem that Congo posed USG. If Administration should issue Purchase Authorization before Secretary was in position to assure Congressional leaders that arms shipments from UAR to Congo had ceased, Congress would be likely to enact legislation disqualifying UAR from any aid whatsoever. Just today, Secretary had received perplexing report that Gbenye and rebel leaders were going to meet in Cairo. Until Congress obtained necessary assurances, it could not be convinced UARG truly nonaligned. In view of Ambassador’s important statement that arms flow had stopped, Secretary would review personally all information available to USG. Any information Kamel could provide on rebel meeting in Cairo would be helpful.

Kamel feared that USG failure to resume aid would defeat the mutual objective of reviving cooperation. Citing his obligation to inform Nasser of any trend he discerned in Washington, he said reactivation of economic cooperation would strengthen his hand in Cairo, but insistence on unattainable guarantee would frustrate conditions in which Congo issue could be resolved. By withholding aid,USG was denying Nasser the power to maneuver within his own country. How could Kamel urge more concessions on UARG when USG had made no positive gesture in two years? It seemed that both his and Secretary’s hands were tied.

Secretary said that, while he comprehended Kamel’s broad approach to US–UAR relations, Congo was issue that loomed largest in his talks with Congress and this was handiest lever by which to get US–UAR relationship back on tracks. He would investigate possibility of USG’s taking certain specific actions and talk with Kamel again.

Rusk
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 1 UAR-US. Secret;Limdis; Noforn. Drafted by Jones, cleared by Davies, and approved by Rusk.