479. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Battle) to Secretary of State Rusk 1

SUBJECT

  • Mr. Robert Anderson’s Talk with Foreign Minister Riad of the UAR

Mr. Robert Anderson called me today. He wanted to report on a conversation he had with Foreign Minister Riad of the UAR preceding a dinner Mr. Anderson gave for a group of Arabs last night.

Mr. Riad came early saying that he had just met with a group of Arab representatives including, among others, the Moroccans, Kuwaitis, Lebanese, Libyans, and Saudis. The group had been astonished to learn through Moroccan channels that Secretary Rusk had informed the Foreign Minister of Morocco that the U.S. had a contract to provide Skyhawks to the Israelis and intended to honor this contract in the near future.2

Mr. Riad said that the opinion of the group which he met was that if the U.S. gave military assistance to Israel while it occupied Arab territory, [Page 917]the result would be “fatal” in terms of U.S. relations with Arab countries. Mr. Riad remarked that while the UAR was getting equipment from Russia, it was not as good as Skyhawks and was not in the quantity widely reported. Moreover, the Egyptians have no one to operate such equipment effectively. Mr. Anderson said that Riad was more vehement than he had ever seen him and that later Pachachi of Iraq had called Mr. Anderson making similar statements in the same tone.

Mr. Riad also told Mr. Anderson that Secretary Rusk had asked several people who spoke for the UAR. Riad wanted Secretary Rusk to know that Riad had greater authority to speak now for President Nasser than he had had before the war. There would have been no Yemen settlement except for Riad’s advice. He had shaped President Nasser’s policy on Yemen as well as on other subjects and could say that he represented President Nasser totally and completely.

Mr. Riad said that he had had a message yesterday from President Nasser asking when Robert Anderson would be visiting Cairo. Nasser considers these talks essential and to be conducted as soon possible. Mr. Anderson will be in Iraq in connection with a sulfur project from October 27 to October 29. He could go to Cairo before or after the pending trip to Iraq.

I told Mr. Anderson that I had hoped to hear from Mr. Eban before a decision was made as to the wisdom of Mr. Anderson’s going to Cairo. It would be impossible for us to know were we stood on the Israeli side of the equation until after we talked with Eban the first of next week. Since this did not give Mr. Anderson much time, I could understand his need to make a decision quickly. If he had to decide now, I would recommend that he agree to go.

Do you approve the foregoing?3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL UAR-US. Secret; Exdis; Eyes Only. Drafted by Battle.
  2. A handwritten note in the margin reads as follows: “Sir: The memcon (at clip) does not bear out this flat Moroccan assertion.” The memorandum of Rusk’s conversation on October 16 with Moroccan Foreign Minister Laraki is not attached to the source text. (Ibid. POL 7 MOR)
  3. Rusk initialed his approval.