519. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1

3905. Reference: Beirut 3901.2 From Robert Anderson.

I just visited with Ambassador Ghaleb.3 He told me that he had received a message from Nasser “some time ago” saying that the Ambassador would expect a call from me when I had received some “word from my country.” I told him that so far as my country was concerned they still thought I was in Iraq where communication was impossible and that I had only advised them this morning that I was back in Beirut and would be here until Sunday when I would return to Baghdad.
I told him that Ambassador Metwally in Iraq told me that he would advise me through Ghaleb what the Egyptian attitude was toward the American resolution. I also stated that it seemed to me that the American resolution contained all the points covered in my discussions in Cairo with the possible exception that the representative of the UN instead of being required to go to the Middle East would consult with both sides in a less conspicuous manner, which might be more effective in getting results. He stated that he would either receive a wire from Nasser today or would inquire as to Nasser’s attitude. I told him that it was going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for me to return to Cairo not only because I had been away so long, but because I wanted to have the opportunity of visiting with my old friend dating from Finance Ministry days, Japanese Prime Minister Sato, while he was in the States. I said I had been invited to dinner with Sato. I thought that I should cast considerable doubt on any possibility of returning to Cairo [Page 1024] until I knew more about the Department’s attitude. When I told Ghaleb that it was doubtful that I could return to Cairo he asked me if this would be true even though President Nasser considered it very important. I replied by saying that I would not foreclose any matter if Nasser thought it of sufficient importance although perhaps the same thing could be accomplished either by Nasser sending someone to meet me here or by communication through Ghaleb. He stated he would explore this possibility if Nasser thought it sufficiently important.
Ghaleb then asked me if I knew about the current happenings at the Security Council and I told him I did not. He spent a long time telling me about the US request for Abba Eban to speak following Mahmoud Riad,4 and stated that we insisted on “our colleague” speaking second following Riad. He said “Isn’t it possible for US to do anything which doesn’t appear one-sided, do the Americans have to take the pro-Israeli point of view in everything including procedure?” His telephone rang almost constantly and he told me that he was receiving continuous calls from Lebanese protesting that the Americans were insisting even on procedural matters to accommodate the Israelis. He said that if the Americans did want Abba Eban to speak second, why did we have to propose it? Why not somebody else? Impression from Arab side is that US deliberately antagonizing the Arabs and he said he was worried about the strong reaction, even in Lebanon.
I said that since he had raised the question of the Security Council, I was at a loss to understand why UAR had suddenly demanded a meeting of the Security Council. I thought his President had felt, during my conversations with him, that more could be accomplished quietly and behind scenes, and that perhaps an agreed resolution (whether with US label or not) could be taken to the Security Council where the procedure would be more or less pro forma. He stated “I cannot speak officially, but it is my impression that we feared the outbreak of another Israeli attack either against us, Syria or Jordan and that this attack would be less likely if the Security Council were in session”. I have no idea as to whether he is expressing a personal judgment, just offering an excuse, or whether he knows more than he is telling me. The rest of the conversation was rather academic in which he said that he thought Israel had initially been established as a cat’s paw so that either we, the Soviets, or other major power could use this small country to [Page 1025] our advantage in the Arab world but that the cat’s paw was rapidly becoming the cat and they did not know where it would bite next.
He stated that he would call me in Beirut if he heard anything else from Cairo.5
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Received on November 11 at 4:17 a.m. Rostow sent a copy of this telegram, along with telegrams 3901 and 3908 from Beirut (see footnotes 2 and 5 below), to the President on November 11 with a memorandum noting that Anderson reported that Nasser wanted to see him again. The memorandum stated: “We shall have a recommendation for you shortly—conscious of your grave reservations in this matter.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Lebanon)
  2. Telegram 3901 from Beirut, November 10, transmitted a message from Anderson, who had arrived in Beirut from Baghdad the previous evening. He reported that the UAR Ambassador to Iraq had told him on November 6 that he had received a message from Cairo asking that Anderson return to Cairo. Anderson stated that he planned to return to Baghdad no later than November 12, return to Beirut on November 14 or 15, and then return to the United States unless he was advised that he should go to Cairo. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR)
  3. UAR Ambassador to Lebanon Abdul Hamid Ghaleb.
  4. Reference is to a procedural dispute in the Security Council on November 9 over whether Israel should be heard after the UAR, which had requested the meeting, or later in the proceedings. A U.S. motion to hear both the UAR and Israel as parties to the dispute before the Security Council members spoke failed of adoption by one vote. (Telegram 2138 from USUN, November 10; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN)
  5. Telegram 3908 from Beirut, November 10, reported that Ghaleb had just notified Anderson that Nasser had indicated he was very anxious for discussions with Anderson in Cairo. (Ibid., POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR)