429. Telegram From the Department of State to the U.S. Interests Section of the Spanish Embassy in the United Arab Republic1

27535. Ref: Cairo’s 3162 and 333.3

In your next conversation with Muhammad Riad or Khouly you may pass along following comments on Fonmin Riad’s remarks reported reftel and in your 2474 as appropriate.

We appreciate hearing Riad’s views and are pleased that he has been frank with us. We would like be equally frank in return. First of all, with regard to his apparent belief that US has applied double standard in its respective attitudes toward Egypt and Israel, we do not believe it useful for us to trade recriminations. Neither we nor Israelis provoked last June’s crisis, which we did our diplomatic best to avert. Nor do we now have any plan for imposing a solution. We hope however that parties concerned can take positive and constructive steps to repair the damage which has been done. In this connection we note with interest Riad’s reported view that a negotiated solution is called for. We agree.

We have no desire and no capacity to impose a solution against the will of the parties. We shall of course do everything possible to facilitate negotiations should the parties wish us to do so.

Our position is that one possible first step toward such a solution is Egyptian acceptance of draft resolution on which we and the Soviets agreed. President Tito told us that as result of Special Session of General Assembly it evident in his view that most countries of the world now clearly support the right of Israel to peaceful existence, and that this fact should have a constructive impact on Arab thought. The premise of our approach therefore is not the Israeli position, as Riad charges, but a position we have upheld for many years—a position with which the [Page 808] Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, India, France and most other countries now agree. To support this position is not to depart from objectivity or to seek impose a settlement along Israeli lines.

UAR should note that the word “waterways” is in the Draft Resolution agreed between the US and the USSR. The end of all claims of belligerent rights necessarily opens the Suez Canal to all flags under the Convention of 1888. We are aware of political problems this creates for UAR, but the essence of a negotiated solution such as Riad mentioned is a willingness to examine the modalities as well as principles of a settlement. We have no detailed proposals however and do not intend to put any forward at this time.
We have not yet heard from Tito, and cannot comment on his proposals until we do, but proposals summarized in para. 11 of your 3165 would not end the state of war which has prevailed in the region for twenty years. It is that condition itself, and all that flows from it, that constitutes a burden to world peace.
USG of course fully agrees on need to solve problems of refugees, Jerusalem, security, and other issues. And it places particular stress on importance of arms limitation agreements.
We are pleased to note Riad’s assurances contained in your 247 regarding UAR intentions in Yemen and South Arabia. We continue hope these two vexing problems can be settled peacefully without further loss of life or destruction of economic and social life.
We welcome reports of an agreement on Yemen between the UAR and Saudi Arabia. Resolution of this long-standing problem to permit the Yemenis to determine their own future would contribute substantially to easing area tensions.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Limdis. Drafted by Parker and Eugene Rostow on August 25; cleared by Davies, Battle, and Popper; and approved by Rostow.
  2. Telegram 316 from Cairo, August 21, transmitted the text of an oral message from Foreign Minister Riad that Mohamed Riad had given Bergus the previous day. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 333 from Cairo, August 23, commented that the message transmitted in telegram 316 contained little new in terms of substance. (Ibid.)
  4. Telegram 247 from Cairo, August 14, conveyed the text of an oral message on Yemen and South Arabia that Riad had given Bergus on August 12. (Ibid., POL 27 YEMEN)
  5. Paragraph 11 of telegram 316 stated that Tito had a “pragmatic platform” which he would be conveying to Johnson and that its main points were withdrawal, restoration of UNEF, and a four-power guarantee of the lines, preferably through the Security Council.