162. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Letter from President Nasser on Jerusalem Problem

PARTICIPANTS

  • The Secretary
  • Dr. Ashraf Abdel Latif Ghorbal, Minister, United Arab Republic Interests Section
  • Rodger P. Davies, Deputy Assistant Secretary, NEA

Dr. Ghorbal said he had been instructed to deliver a letter from President Nasser to President Johnson either to the President or the Secretary as expeditiously as possible. (A copy of the letter dated May 1 is enclosed.)2 In response to the Secretary’s questions, Dr. Ghorbal said he was not certain whether the text would be published and that he had no instructions other than to deliver the letter. Mr. Davies said [Page 319] we understood from Mr. Bergus that letters from President Nasser to the heads of government represented on the Security Council would be published the following day.

Dr. Ghorbal asked permission to make a few comments on the Arab-Israel situation. The ten months since the war and the five months during which Ambassador Jarring sought solution represented a long and agonizing period for peoples whose lands were under harsh occupation. The United States had a great interest in peace in the area and Arab governments looked to it to exert its influence to force Israel to accept and implement the U.K. resolution.

The Secretary commented that invariably other governments felt we had greater influence in third capitals than we actually had. It puzzled him that when governments could discount U.S. influence in their own capitals they ascribed such power to the U.S. in other capitals. It would be refreshing if for a change a government would say “What should we do in the U.S. view?”

Dr. Ghorbal said the Secretary was deeply mistaken if he felt the U.S. lacked influence in Cairo. Despite the lack of diplomatic relations, words and actions of the U.S. were taken most seriously. He noted that in the days immediately following passage of the U.K. resolution his government had taken the position that Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories was a prerequisite to further action. The fact that his government changed its position to view the package as a whole could be attributed to U.S. efforts in Cairo and Washington.

The Secretary asked whether the U.A.R. was cooperating fully with Ambassador Jarring and had accepted his proposals.

Dr. Ghorbal said that he believed he could answer affirmatively. The U.A.R.G. had suggested three possible venues for discussions under Ambassador Jarring’s auspices: the Security Council, discussions in New York with Ambassador Jarring, or specific proposals for implementation by Jarring with the various governments.

The Secretary assured Dr. Ghorbal that President Nasser’s letter would be transmitted immediately to the President and would be duly considered.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret. Drafted by Davies on May 6 and approved in S on May 7.
  2. Document 161.