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

502. 1. Two and one-half hour session with Presidency Adviser Khouli September 9. It hard after these talkathons separate gold from dross but will try best.

2. I drew on very helpful State 341122 and related telegrams to state US–UAR differences re Middle East settlement revolved around two vital points: 1) belligerence, and 2) commitment. Neither Tito nor Khartoum,3 commendable as both were in many respects, had satisfactorily addressed themselves to these.

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3. Khouli went back to argument re importance US–UAR “relationship.” He again distinguished between “relationship” and “relations.” He said Nasser had at Khartoum encouraged Arab states having relations with U.S. to intensify such relations for total Arab cause. As for UAR, it would for time being prefer deal with me, who was known rather than “some strange ambassador we don’t know.” He felt US–UAR relationship more important than Arab-Israel conflict, although FonMin would probably not agree with him. He said Nasser realized that only U.S., because of its “control” Israel, could establish durable peace in NE (“not Podgorny or Kosygin”), that only U.S. had scientific and technological know-how help NE become a happy and prosperous area. Nasser had meant what he said when he had referred to U.S. as most powerful nation on earth.

4. UAR felt that foreign policy changes it had made in Khartoum context would make it easier for US–UAR relationship to develop. Khouli referred to “recent internal changes” in GUAR.4 He said there more in offing, which would also improve atmosphere in this regard. But at present, continued Khouli, situation clouded by Arab belief that U.S. had become partial. He, for one, was perfectly willing agree that concept Arab belligerency against Israel was unrealistic and outmoded. Ways could be found blaze a new trail, but why did U.S. keep insisting on hitting Egypt in the face with Suez Canal as most important issue in this connection? Why did we not think about establishing precedent of non-belligerency first on such issues as demilitarization of Sinai in context arrangements for Israel withdrawal and then moving on to Suez issue? USG should not underestimate Egyptian hatred and fear of Israel, recently exacerbated by Israeli shelling of civilians in Canal Zone. Whole thrust of this part of argument was that USG could make belligerency issue much more palatable to Arabs if it could demonstrate a little impartiality. I cited forceful demarches we had made to Israelis re return of West Bankers. This seemed impress him.

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5. On issue of commitment, Khouli was surprisingly relaxed and frank. He said President Johnson had been right when in pre-hostilities correspondence with Nasser, LBJ had in effect stated that UAR had broken “gentleman’s agreement” re Aqaba. Khouli admitted that such “gentleman’s agreement” had existed. He recounted Nasser’s desire in early June reestablish “gentleman’s agreement” by sending Zakariyah to Washington. He looked forward opportunity joint review of chronology May–June events as soon as U.S. was ready. He recognized need for meaningful Arab commitments but felt, too, that this would be fairly simple problem if only Arab confidence in U.S. impartiality could be reestablished.

6. Other bits and pieces:

Memcons my conversations with Mohamed Riad being restricted to FonMin personally and Presidency.
Nasser has been in Alexandria, in better health than he has been in months, “He swam two hours straight on Friday.”
GUAR would like see return U.S. dependents as indication USG desires normalize relations. If, say, by October 15, I can tell him U.S. in principle favors return dependents, he will take care of such matters as necessary GUAR assurances and quashing of Ministry Interior expulsion order.
He would like see TWA resume flights to Cairo and I could count on him for any necessary support this connection.
My travel plans to U.S. well-known to Presidency and he thought I should stay as long as necessary make GUAR viewpoint known to powers that be. I cautioned him this was routine consultation.
He sees Nasser again 12th. He will get in touch with me 13th if anything further I should take to Washington.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL UAR–US. Secret; Limdis.
  2. Telegram 34112 to Cairo, September 8, authorized Bergus to express U.S. pleasure with the constructive attitude reportedly taken by Nasser at the recent Arab Summit meeting in Khartoum but to point out that a settlement would require the Arabs to renounce belligerency in a manner sufficiently convincing to the Israelis. (Ibid., POL 27 ARAB–ISR)
  3. The Conference of Arab Heads of State met in Khartoum August 29–September 1. Resolution 3 adopted by the Conference states that the participants had agreed to unite their political efforts on the international and diplomatic level “to eliminate the effects of the aggression and to ensure the withdrawal of the aggressive Israeli forces from the Arab lands which have been occupied since the 5 June aggression.” This was to be done “within the framework of the main principles to which the Arab states adhere, namely: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it, and adherence to the rights of the Palestinian people in their country.” For texts of the resolutions, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 590–591.
  4. On August 25 UAR authorities arrested former Vice President and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Amer on the charge that he was preparing a coup. At least 50 other persons, including Saleh Nasr, the head of the General Intelligence Department, were also arrested. Bergus commented in telegram 442 from Cairo, September 5, that the episode had the appearance of a personal power struggle. He wrote, “Feeling around town is that Nasser has won this one. There is less certainty that there won’t be a next one.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 UAR) An Intelligence Note of September 13 from Deputy Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research George C. Denney, Jr., to Rusk states that there was no evidence that Amer was conspiring to overthrow Nasser. (Ibid., POL 29 UAR)