65. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic1
202587. On instructions Undersecretary Rostow called in UAR Ambassador at 10 p.m. to transmit the following message: “Your adversaries believe that a surprise attack by UAR from Egypt and Syria is imminent from moment to moment. We know this is unthinkable. We cannot believe the government of the UAR would be so reckless. Such [Page 113] a course would obviously have the most serious possible consequences. Therefore we are continuing to advise restraint on the part of GOI.” We do not wish you to follow this up directly, but you must know about the message if the issue is raised.
Rostow explained that we were transmitting this rumor, which we believed and hoped was not true, as a friendly act.
Ambassador replied that he too believed the rumor to be untrue, but would transmit it immediately as a precautionary measure. He thought our announcement about withdrawing dependents2 was probably interpreted in the Middle East as a signal that war was coming, and might well be the source of the rumor. He knew that for us such steps were routine in troubled times. But it was probably interpreted otherwise in Cairo.
FYI: The basis of this warning is an urgent report transmitted this afternoon by FonMin Eban to the Secretary. The answer to the Israelis is being considered. President will see him tomorrow. Meanwhile, we felt it indispensable to transmit this warning. End FYI.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL ARAB–ISR. Secret; Flash; Exdis. Drafted and approved by Eugene Rostow. Cleared by Lucien L. Kinsolving for the NEA crisis task force. Also sent Flash to London, Tel Aviv, Moscow, and USUN. A copy was sent to the President on May 26 with a memorandum from Walt Rostow stating, “You may wish to see how the message to the UAR Ambassador was handled last night.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. II)↩
- Telegram 202576 to all American diplomatic missions, sent at 10:26 p.m. on May 25, stated that the embassies in Cairo, Tel Aviv, and Amman had decided on evacuation of official dependents. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL ARAB–ISR)↩