314. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • US-UAR Relations; Phantoms; Jarring Mission

PARTICIPANTS

  • Muhammad Riad, UAR Foreign Ministry
  • Ashraf Ghorbal, U.A.R. Interests Section, Embassy of India
  • Richard B. Parker, Country Director for NEA/UAR

Mr. Parker asked if he could interpret President Nasser’s congratulatory message to President-elect Nixon2 as a sign the UAR wanted to resume relations. Muhammad smiled and said he did not know. Ashraf said the ball was now in our court. Muhammad said he hoped that if there was progress towards resumption it would not be derailed again. He then confided that the UAR had been moving towards resumption last February but had changed its mind because of remarks and actions of Ambassador Goldberg, who had given complete credence to the Israelis but had refused to believe anything the Egyptians said. He referred specifically to Ambassador Goldberg’s acceptance of the Israeli contention that the Egyptians were insisting on withdrawal first in spite of Egyptian assurances to us to the contrary.

Mr. Parker said there had been a good deal of confusion as to the Egyptian position because of the elliptical statements issuing from the Egyptians themselves. He himself had gotten into trouble with the Egyptians for pointing out that Jarring apparently thought they were insisting on withdrawal first. He had only been trying to do a service by pointing out that there was a communications failure. All he had succeeded in doing was making people mad, but he had been vindicated when Jarring subsequently told Mahmoud Riad he understood the UAR was still insisting on withdrawal first. Ambassador Goldberg could certainly not be blamed if he reported what the Israelis told him. He also reported what the Egyptians and Jordanians told him.

[Page 623]

Phantoms

Ashraf raised the Benjamin Welles story in the November 7 New York Times 3 again and asked for a fuller explanation. Mr. Parker said the Welles story was not accurate. The Department’s spokesman on November 7 had said negotiations on the Phantoms were still continuing. This was correct. He would not try to mislead them; Israel would get the Phantoms sooner or later. But the terms of the deal were still under discussion and no agreement had been reached, nor had any decision been taken as alleged by Welles. Ashraf asked where Welles had gotten the story then. Mr. Parker said he believed it had come from someone in the aircraft industry.

Ashraf asked whether the last sentence of the article, which referred to the possibility that delivery could be expedited if conditions in the area warranted, was not really the most important thought in it and the real reason for its appearance at that particular juncture. Mr. Parker explained that newspaper stories were usually written in discrete groups of paragraphs so that they could be cut down to fit available space without destroying the completeness of thought. The least important paragraphs were usually at the end of the story.

Jarring Mission

Muhammad said that he had told Mr. Sisco one should not exclude the possibility (laa yistaba’ad) that Foreign Minister Riad would reply to the seven points of the Secretary. Mr. Parker said he had understood that Muhammad had said categorically that the Foreign Minister would be replying. Muhammad said he hoped he would be, but could not be quite that categorical.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL UAR-US. Confidential. Drafted by Parker.
  2. The text of the congratulatory message sent by Nasser to NIXON on November 7 is ibid., POL 15-1 US/Nixon.
  3. Citing “responsible American sources,” Welles reported on November 7 that the United States had agreed in principle to sell Israel 58 Phantom jet fighters.