495. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1


  • Robert Anderson’s Report from Cairo (Text attached)2

Bob Anderson saw Kaissouni (Nasser’s top economics minister), Mohieddin (most frequently mentioned now as Nasser’s likely successor) and Nasser himself. He has another meeting with Nasser on Thursday.3 These main points emerge: [Page 963]

  • —They believe the US is entirely aligned with Israel. They cite our close coordination with Israel in the UN and our resumption of military shipments as evidence. They believe Israel will do whatever we say. They admit charges of our involvement in the June war were mistaken.
  • —They want a political peace but the terms have to be acceptable to the Arab people, not just to the leaders. The alternative is long and continuous warfare.
  • —No Arab leader would survive direct negotiations with Israel. No Arab government would settle until all agree.
  • —They would prefer the great powers to impose a settlement.
  • —They could accept only these terms: (1) the restoration of all territory that had been taken by the Israelis, (2) the settlement of the refugee question, and (3) the auspices of some international body which would obviate the necessity of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Arabs. A single mediator at the table would not be adequate cover. Nasser could not allow Israeli annexation of the Gaza Strip. He would allow an Israeli flag vessel through the Canal if the refugee problem were settled, although he couldn’t guarantee that some radical wouldn’t shoot at it. He thought demilitarization of some territory possible.
  • —They think it important to restore diplomatic relations with us “as soon as things are a little better.” They were “prepared to go more than halfway.”

In conclusion, Bob judges that Nasser is still master of the political situation and that there is little committee rule. Nasser appears in good health.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Sandstorm/Whirlwind. Secret. A handwritten “L” on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Telegram [text not declassified] to the White House, October 31, attached but not printed, transmitted the text of a message from Anderson. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL UAR-US)
  3. November 2.