217. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic1

7149. US–UAR Relations.

Begin FYI. We are accustomed to UARG’s taking one line with us and another with the Arabs, but lately we have sensed greater degree of ambivalence than usual.

On one side we have noted a set of initiatives, restraints, and responses apparently calculated to requalify UAR for US aid. They include:

Unexpectedly warm reply to President Johnson’s message of congratulations on Nasser’s re-election.2
Sharp improvement in relations between US Embassy and UARG since last winter’s crise.
Policy of restraint toward Saudi Arabia despite Saudi contribution to recent royalist successes.
Provision of high-quality temporary housing for John F. Kennedy Library.
Warm remarks of Deputy Prime Minister Sidqi in Nasser’s name at Bagasse dedication.
Offer to send Fawzi to Washington.
Intimation that Sadat will head parliamentary delegation to US.
Restrained treatment of US decision to sell arms to Israel in Nasser’s May 1 speech.
Positive tone of Nasser’s May 12 letter to the President.3

However, Nasser’s May 1 speech also seems to have foreshadowed a hardening of Egyptian attitudes toward us on some issues. Aspects of that speech particularly unpalatable to USG were Nasser’s endorsement of the “liberate Palestine” theme and his blunt treatment of possible cessation Title I program. Since that time Cairo’s “Voice of Palestine” has attacked HKJ for frustrating PLO’s proposals, UARG has reportedly reinforced its troops in Yemen in apparent contradiction to its ostensible support for Numan’s conciliation campaign, Akhbar has criticized the three Arab hold-outs on the Germany/Israel issue, Ahram has launched a campaign against Libya and Wheelus Field, and Nasser has reportedly [Page 462] not only disclosed US disarmament initiatives but also misrepresented them.

We can understand compulsion Egyptian regime must feel to present itself to public in best possible light, to placate Soviet Union, to throw up an anti-American smoke screen to camouflage fact of its pulling back on the Congo, and even to prod USG a bit. We suppose UARG’s problem of image-maintenance is painfully complicated by uncertainty of PL–480 program. If current agreement not renewed, UARG will have unenviable task of explaining to a people who suffered losses in Yemen why they must now go on half-rations in Egypt. We suppose allegations about US pressures that Nasser made in public May 1 and in parliament May 16 were made to justify regime’s position if US aid is cut off.

However, at best these considerations are irrelevant to US interests and at worst conflict with them. End FYI.

Department expressed to UAR Ambassador its concern at deleterious effects on US–UAR relations of capricious attacks on Libyan Government with which USG has excellent relations, of unilateral disclosures of informal talks between USG and UARG on highly sensitive subjects, and of generally unfriendly tone UAR press.

Concur with your 40684 that you should delay any approach along lines Deptel 70985 (not repeated info addressees) at least until you return from Addis. In meantime may be useful for Embassy to convey our concern about anti-Libyan campaign to appropriate level UARG.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL UAR-US. Secret. Drafted by Jones on May 20; cleared by Davies, Blake, and Komer; and approved by Jernegan. Repeated by pouch to Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, Jidda, Taiz, Tel Aviv, and Tripoli.
  2. Johnson’s message of congratulations was sent in telegram 5660 to Cairo, March 19. Nasser’s reply was dated March 23. Both are in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Head of State Correspondence, UAR, Nasser Correspondence, Vol. I.
  3. See Document 215.
  4. Dated May 20. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 UAR)
  5. Telegram 7098 to Cairo, May 19, stated that a Department officer met with Ambassador Kamel that day and expressed concern at the unfriendly tone of a recent speech by Nasser. (Ibid.)