379. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1
304. UAR Attitudes.
Riad (UAR) informed Sisco and Pedersen at lunch today that Cairo pleased that we have decided to increase our staff from seven to fourteen and that Don Bergus is going since he is known and well liked.2 Riad said they had not made any decisions regarding the size of their group but that if and when they make decision they would want to send someone to Wash who was well known to Luke Battle. He underscored that US still had many friends in Egypt and trusted there could be an improvement in relations. He stressed too that there was really no need for an intermediary; that the best way for Egyptians and [Page 696] Americans to communicate was directly and in particular in Cairo now that Don Bergus is going.
Turning to GA, he informed us that Gromyko had met with Fawzi this morning and had put to them two formulations “which had been discussed by Gromyko and Goldberg” on previous evening. Riad said that fact that discussion had taken place had enhanced US position in Arab eyes and that UAR at least no longer believed the rumors spread in corridors that US wanted no result whatsoever from GA. Riad implied his del favorable to language (which he did not describe other than to refer to “is expected” formula) which Gromyko had discussed with them this morning but that the decision rested in Cairo. Moreover, he said UAR having great difficulties with the Syrians and Algerians. Also said there would be a question as to who would put forward proposal if there were one.
Riad said UAR had maintained open contact with Americans here on direct instructions of Fawzi, who had resisted criticism from other Arabs in doing so. He said UAR and US both needed each other, perhaps in different degrees, but it was necessary to both. He said we should keep in close touch as matters develop in Cairo and elsewhere. There was no need for any broker between US and UAR; this would only complicate matters and require payment of “broker’s fees”. He said Bergus would be kept fully informed of views and currents in Cairo.
Riad described Sudan role within Arab group since outbreak of conflict as being a moderating one, saying our impression that Sudan was among extremists was not correct. Described new Iraqi Govt as a strong one, with a leadership which was more closely identified with UAR and a leader who was a nationalist and progressive but not a leftist. Said new govt was more objectionable as previous one to Syrians and effort would be made to pacify Kurdish problem. He assented to our description of Algerians and Syrians as being the most extreme among Arabs.
In spite of some top-level speeches in the past which Riad admitted had caused trouble in US, Riad maintained UAR had over past years generally exercised moderating influence among Arabs and with Syrians in particular in Israeli problem. Said they had specifically told Syrians El Fatah-type activities were not good themselves nor good for general Arab cause when Arab world was not sufficiently strong.
Riad reflected real concern that Israelis might cross Suez Canal and even take Port Said. Thought presence Israeli mil boats at canal was evidence of this possible intention as well as of desire to be on canal itself. He volunteered that in spite of new equipment UAR air force was no match for Israelis. Said they had even heard Israelis might try to open [Page 697] canal and offer to put some of revenues in banks for UAR as they were doing on some of Sinai oil wells.