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

106083. Ref: Cairo’s 1413.2 Subject: US-UAR Relations.

Following for use in your next discussion of subject with Muhammad Riad.
Although frequent repetition UAR line that we are being negative about resumption relations is beginning raise question whether Egyptians trying use issue as stick with which to beat us, we are prepared accept at face value Riad’s assertion that UAR desire for resumption is genuine. For our part, as we have made clear to UARG on number of occasions, we believe diplomatic relations most useful in difficult times and would be glad to see them resumed. We are ready to agree in principle to formal resumption now and to work towards restoration of friendly and cooperative relations thereafter. We have conveyed our interest in resumption to highest levels UARG and have as yet received no specific proposals. If Egyptians want to resume, they should get down to cases.
Question of who is taking initiative no longer seems relevant, given statements of interest made by both sides already. We willing settle for joint statement along lines proposed para 10.C of Cairo’s 14133 and if UARG wishes proceed on that basis it should authorize appropriate official to inform us, privately if it wishes, that it is prepared resume relations and is ready to negotiate details. (We need some official confirmation, as opposed unofficial expression of opinion, that UARG in fact ready to resume. We have already indicated our willingness to resume relations. UARG should reciprocate.)
With respect to UARG allegation that British and American planes were involved in June war, we set no conditions and have asked for no apologies. We do, however, stand on our position that public misapprehensions regarding events of last June should be clarified and [Page 129] that it is inconsistent with good relations to leave an impression that the United States engaged in military actions against Egyptian people when in fact we had no part in them. In the perspective of Egypt’s good relations with the American people, which both governments desire rebuild, it would be wise now officially to make it clear that the charges of American and British involvement were based on mistakes and misinformation. UARG should realize that American people saw and heard spokesmen for Egypt repeat these accusations daily on TV and radio and that these accusations have done a great deal of harm to our mutual interests. Hussein’s dignified statement on subject won him much respect in the United States and cleared the air. We have no particular formula to suggest, and we reject none in advance. We would welcome suggestions from UARG.
FYI. Your suggestion of unilateral statement by us that UARG acknowledged last June’s allegations based on misinformation has merit and in final analysis we would be prepared settle for such a formula. Before doing so, however, we believe we should endeavor get UARG take action of its own to clarify misapprehensions. If it appears there no hope of getting UARG over a multilateral hurdle, you may discuss idea of unilateral statement, but you should not propose specific language or reveal our willingness to accept such formula. End FYI.
Compensation—Total amount involved is not large. Although impossible make accurate estimate without survey of buildings in Alexandria and Port Said, we believe total damage for which we should expect restitution from UARG is under $1 million, most of which probably payable in local currency. We do not propose make agreement on amount condition precedent for resumption, but before resumption we should have agreement in principle to payment of compensation. We assume UARG will be prepared give us such an undertaking in response to our taking a leaf from British book as suggested para 10.E your 1413,4 but undertaking should be explicit, such as personal assurance from Fonmin Mahmoud Riad that compensation will be forthcoming.
If question is raised about representation once agreement on resumption is reached, you may say that while we plan to resume at Ambassadorial level, we do not now envisage immediate exchange of Ambassadors but would plan to keep our representation at Charge level initially. Our reasons for this are administrative rather than political.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL UAR-US. Secret. Drafted by Parker on January 24; cleared by Walt Rostow, Battle, Davies, and Eugene Rostow; and approved by Rusk. Walt Rostow also cleared the telegram with the President on January 28. (Memorandum from Rostow to President Johnson; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, United Arab Republic, Vol. VI, Memos, 8/67-7/68)
  2. See footnote 4, Document 55.
  3. In paragraph 10C of telegram 1413, Bergus proposed the text of a joint statement to be released in Washington and Cairo signaling a determination to reestablish diplomatic relations.
  4. In paragraph 10E of telegram 1413, Bergus suggested that the United States state in the course of negotiations that it assumed that upon the resumption of relations timely and adequate compensation would be paid for the damage to U.S. property.