327. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1

5935/Secto 27. Following are main points of an hour’s conversation which I had with Dr. Fawzi of Egypt this morning.

I asked him about Cairo’s attitude toward “longer run” relations between Egypt and the US. I told him that those relations had been [Page 571] deeply injured by the false charge that US aircraft had taken part in attacks on Egypt. I asked him whether the Egyptian Government now contemplated informing other Arab governments privately that their earlier information on this matter was incorrect. I emphasized the importance of this point because it had been the basis on which a number of them had broken relations with the US even though some were relatively remote from the Israeli question itself. Fawzi was vague, said it would take time and rather indicated that relations would depend on our attitude on present issues. I emphasized that maintenance of diplomatic relations was not seen by us as conditional in character and that the structure of diplomacy exists for the discussion of disagreements and cannot be conditioned upon agreement.
Reverting to our earlier conversation2 I said we had not found much interest on the part of the Soviet Union in arms limitations in the area. He said that this is probably a question of time, that he hoped something could be done about it to cut down the diversion of resources to arms away from urgent economic and social problems. He said that perhaps PresidentJohnson could take this up on his initiative as an idea of his own.
I then referred to his earlier comment about the Strait of Tiran. Fawzi told me that in addition to the US he had discussed the opening of the Strait with the USSR, France, Britain, India and Yugoslavia. I said that opening the Strait could not be as private and secret as he had suggested at his last meeting because ships cannot move in secret and that any arrangement on the Strait would have to be public. I recalled that the original request by Egypt for a removal of a portion of UNEF did not include removal of the UN contingent from Sharm al-Sheikh. Did he anticipate that a UN force would return to Sharm al-Sheik? He said not UNEF but possibly a contingent of UNTSO whose functions would have to be enlarged to cover this point. He said UNEF was dead but that “maybe” UNTSO could do something about this. He confirmed that their original request for a removal of a portion of UNEF had not included Sharm al-Sheik.
Fawzi pressed hard for a simple resolution on withdrawal with UN observation of withdrawal. He made no point of condemnation or of reparations. I pressed him equally hard on the necessity for returning to peace and not to a state of war. I told him of Gromyko’s remark that Japan and the Soviet Union had eliminated the state of belligerence even though they still do not have a peace treaty. He said formal action of this sort would be extremely difficult and would set the situation back because of Arab public opinion. I [Page 572] reminded him that Egypt could mold Arab public opinion and that the Arabs would probably follow an Egyptian initiative to stabilize peace in the area.
He then said if there were a withdrawal resolution the General Assembly could go into all of these other questions in a subsequent resolution. But when he used language on various points which might be in such a second resolution it was quite clear that they have not come very far on recognizing the existence of a state of Israel and the removal of the state of belligerence.
He called attention to increasing Egyptian newspaper discussion of new approaches and said that this could not have happened even a few weeks ago. What conclusion he wanted me to draw from that he did not say.
My impression is that the Egyptians realize that the General Assembly will insist upon doing more than calling for a withdrawal. He was trying to separate these other issues from withdrawal as such. This represents perhaps some movement but not enough. I made no commitments whatever but simply told him that I would discuss the views he expressed with Ambassador Goldberg and our delegation. At the end he told me that he was seeing Gromyko at 3:30 this afternoon prior to my meeting with Gromyko tonight.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Exdis. Received at 12:43.
  2. See Documents 320 and 321.