343. Telegram From the U.S. Interests Section of the Spanish Embassy in the United Arab Republic to the Department of State 1

4082. 1. Governor Scranton met with Nasser for ninety minutes evening 6th. FonMin Riad present.2 Scranton found Nasser completely relaxed. At no time did he become emotional. Following is brief sketch of highlights:

2. US-UAR Relations. Nasser said he had been thinking of writing letter to President-elect Nixon and sending it via former Treasury Secretary Anderson. Then Scranton visit had been proposed and Nasser thought it might be better convey views orally via Scranton. Governor said he believed it would still be good idea for Nasser to write President-elect.

3. Nasser several times said he would like see resumption diplomatic relations. He would like have a clear assertion of US policy on which he could hang it. He believed that if UAR resumed relations, other Arab states would follow. Nasser said he had been ready resume relations last February but US behavior in Security Council had caused him change his mind.

4. Governor suggested desirability of Nasser’s making some kind of overture to US. This would help with American public opinion which still to large extent dwelt on false accusation that US had participated militarily in June war. Moreover, Nasser gesture towards US would strengthen hand of new administration in influencing Israelis to take steps towards peace. Nasser did not argue this point.

5. Sharm-al-Sheikh. Nasser said that during May-June 1967 crisis he discovered he did not have military power physically to close Straits Tiran. Governor pointed out that with subsequent rebuilding of UAR armed forces, they probably had acquired this capability. Governor said this emphasized need for UN presence at Sharm-al-Sheikh. No argument from Nasser.

6. Sinai. Nasser said Sinai, while important, was less important than problems of West Bank of Jordan and refugees.

7. Refugees. Nasser felt back of refugee problem could be broken if 500,000 refugees (both ’48 and ’67) could be settled on West Bank of [Page 681] Jordan. He wondered how water could be provided for such resettlement.

8. Gaza. While Nasser didn’t want it ceded to Israel, he indicated no problem in finding workable solution.

9. Demilitarized Zones. Nasser reiterated Riad’s dislike of idea of demilitarizing entire Sinai on grounds this would give undue military advantage to Israel. He also said UN forces in Sinai would not fight if Israel invaded.

10. Suez Canal. Nasser implied there no problem re opening of Canal to flags of all nations.

11. Peace. Governor gained impression Nasser had yearning for Arab-Israel settlement so he could concentrate on internal situation.

12. Internal Problems. Nasser said both Egyptian youth and military wanted revenge against Israel. He said his own children called for revenge. He stated that many Egyptian youth were volunteering to join Fedayeen.

13. USSR. Nasser made usual statements to effect USSR did not control UAR.

14. Syria. Nasser felt that if overall Arab-Israel settlement came in sight, he believed he could handle Syrians. He spoke specifically in terms of a settlement which would not necessarily involve return of Syrians to Golan Heights.

15. Iraq. Nasser said recent Israel raids on Iraq forces in Jordan had solidified Iraqis behind their government. He noted riots in Baghdad had ceased.

16. Communist China. Nasser said UAR did not have good relations with ChiComs.

Bergus
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 7 US/SCRANTON. Secret; Exdis.
  2. Scranton’s meeting with Mahmoud Riad on the morning of December 6 was reported in telegram 4079 from Cairo, December 7. (Ibid.)