407. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Turkey 1

16257. Ref: Ankara’s 460.2

Suggest you thank Kuneralp for his initiative. USG appreciates close and helpful relation with Turkish Government throughout ME crisis and believes Turkish influence will be constructive force in helping to bring situation to a sound and peaceful resolution. You may pass the following comments to him for transmittal to El Zyyat. For the sake of clarity, you may transmit these thoughts as an unofficial memorandum.3 Such a paper should be transmitted by the Turkish Government [Page 752] as their own summary of USG views not as a direct communication of the USG.
Before any constructive steps can be taken to bring about an improvement in UAR-US relations, there are several things that need to be cleared away. The US did not break relations with the UAR. This action was taken by the UAR. We regret that decision. We believe diplomatic relations are particularly necessary during periods of strain. UAR took this step on the ground that the US had engaged in an attack upon the UAR and other countries with which the US had friendly relations. These charges were untrue. We believe they were known by the UAR to be untrue. Either the original charges or variants thereon continue to be made, including those stated by President Nasser in his recent speech. In addition, personal attacks on President Johnson are not in keeping with a desire for better relations.
It is difficult to see how a nation that wishes friendly relations with another can make such charges and continue to make them knowing that they are false, can slander President Johnson, and at the same time profess through various channels to wish an improvement in relations. If the UAR really wishes to rebuild its relations with the US, it could begin by ceasing to make charges it knows to be erroneous and by ceasing to attack President Johnson. This would be only a beginning but would be a good beginning. At some stage thereafter it would become necessary for the UAR to request resumption of diplomatic relations if it wishes their reestablishment.
The degree to which US–UAR bilateral relations can be improved is heavily dependent on constructive and responsible steps by the UAR, in its own interests, to deal (a) with the realities of relations between the nations of the Middle East which were engaged in the recent Arab-Israeli hostilities and (b) with problems of UAR relations with other states of the area heightened by the conflict in Yemen.
Regarding the Arabs and Israel, the fundamental principle of non-belligerence is at the heart of the present crisis. The US strongly favors withdrawal of Israeli forces to permanent national boundaries for Israel at the earliest possible time. What is required to achieve this is Arab acknowledgment that the state of war is over. The UAR can be influential in bringing this about. It is only in the above context that US weight can be brought to bear effectively on Israeli withdrawal.
Regarding the Yemen conflict and its outgrowths, we note with hope the report from Khartoum that initiative has been taken to return to the idea of the Jidda agreement. Deterioration in our relations prior to the recent Arab-Israel conflict stemmed largely from differences over the course followed by UAR in Yemen, in South Arabia and toward other Arab countries.
The US seeks good relations with all Arab countries and has played an active role in development programs designed to improve stability and promote economic growth. We continue to seek a means toward these ends. There is a basic desire for friendship with the Egyptian people and a strong hope in the USG to join with the UAR in efforts to make that friendship viable and lasting despite damage which recent events and charges have done to our bilateral relations. The USG respects the right of each state to organize and conduct its internal affairs as it chooses. Steps along foregoing lines might permit UAR and US to move in a direction helpful to both.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 17 US–UAR. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Eugene Rostow and Battle, cleared by Sisco, and approved by Rusk.
  2. Telegram 460 from Ankara, August 4, reported that Secretary General of the Turkish Foreign Office Kuneralp had told the Charge that Turkish Ambassador Gunver in Cairo had reported that El Zyyat had expressed pleasure that the United States wanted to keep the door open for friendship in the future. He referred to Fawzi’s contacts with Rusk in New York and said Rusk had never given Fawzi a clear indication of U.S. views. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 613 from Ankara, August 9, reported that the Ambassador had given the unofficial memorandum to Kuneralp, who said they would transmit it to the UAR in the manner requested. (Ibid.) Telegram 249 from Cairo, August 14, reported that Foreign Office Counselor Riad indicated on August 12 that he was fully aware of the contents of telegram 16257 to Ankara. Bergus commented that this confirmed his view that “Zyyat approaches typical Egyptian feeler made in time of stress with full knowledge GUAR.” (Ibid.)