408. Telegram From the U.S. Interests Section of the Spanish Embassy in the United Arab Republic to the Department of State 1

186. I had two hour conversation with FonOff Counselor Mohamed Riad evening Aug 5. Wide-ranging, many topics covered but main thrust was what lay ahead in current ME crisis. I said I had received fragmentary report from USUN to effect Indians and others were working toward some kind of SC resolution embodying quasi-consensus reached between Goldberg and Dobrynin/Gromyko in closing days July ESSGA.

I said that if at UN there could be legislative act clearly affirming Israel’s right to exist adopted as result understanding between world’s two greatest powers and accepted by Arabs, this would open new vistas for just and honorable settlement. Otherwise picture very gloomy indeed. In absence some such development, present situation could well harden.

Arabs, I continued, seemed presently bemused by concept of “pressure”. In Arab view, US “pressure” had facilitated Israel military victory, stymied UN action favorable to Arabs, and continued be exercised for purpose humiliating and dismembering Arab world. This erroneous [Page 754] concept seemed to be guiding present exercises in Khartoum. Evidently Arabs felt they had only to develop sufficient “counter pressure” through oil, Suez Canal, etc. force US and West to “pressure” Israel return to June 4 situation. This unrealistic to extreme. Guar had learned during April–May US–UAR crisis over Yemen that one country’s “pressure” on another, even in situation of almost total dependency YAR on UAR, could not be applied preemptorily. So long as Israel could plead her very existence at stake, Arabs would be foolish count on Arab “pressure” on West to generate decisive “pressure” on Israel. Much more likely probability was interminable stalemate and increasing risk situation would again blow up in our faces.

I concluded by saying that even with acceptable UN action soonest, complications of present crisis made it likely that comprehensive sorting out would take considerable time. Therefore need for early start imperative.

Riad seized on final point to convey at some length that UAR would be much more interested in conceding Israel’s existence if some quick and tangible development would follow. Could, for example, UAR be put in position say to its own people and to other “more radical” Arabs that acknowledgment Israel’s existence would in fact begin process Israel withdrawal? Would “ironclad” arrangement re Aqaba make it possible for Israel forego claims to use of Suez Canal for time being? (I pointed out US position re Israel rights Suez Canal went back to 1951.) Would Israel really accept meaningful UN presence on its side as well as Arab side of frontiers?

GUAR and other Arabs were genuinely concerned, concluded Riad, lest any gesture made to acknowledge Israel’s existence would only be read by US and Israel as sign of Arab weakness. He asked if I were sure USG did not aim at overthrow of Arab “nationalist” regimes. He cited stream of pointed questions re UAR internal stability which had been posed to him and other UAR reps by Americans in New York. I said USG interested in peaceful stable NE, not personalities.

Finally he said I should know our meeting was taking place with full knowledge and consent Guar authorities who hoped this contact would flourish in full frankness. He indirectly but clearly cautioned me against discussing these matters with Spanish or other diplomats or “others of US.”

I said we had covered a lot of very high ground and raised a lot of difficult questions. He should understand my comments had been largely personal. Under present US set-up in Cairo I could not take hourly pulse of USG and was operating very much out of my hat. Would report highlights our conversation, await USG reaction, and in any case, stay in close touch.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN. Secret. Received at 1534Z.