158. Telegram From the Interests Section in the United Arab Republic to the Department of State1

2017. 1. Here are first personal impressions of hour’s conversation Wiley and I had with FonMin Riad tonight. Subsequent telegrams report conversation in detail.2

[Page 532]

2. FonMin almost totally repudiated factual data I gave GUAR on September 3.3 He associated Nasser and General Fawzi with this repudiation.

3. Egyptians extremely agitated by yesterday’s statement issued by McCloskey.4 FonMin said more than once that McCloskey statement was equal to a certificate authorizing Israelis to attack Egypt. FonMin recalled “collusion” of June 5, 1967,5 and said GUAR confidence in USG which had recently risen to ten percent had now fallen back to zero.

4. I believe Egyptians have been severely shaken by this latest démarche. Mohamed told me that President had been “preoccupied” all night with our charges.

5. Egyptians probably felt only feasible alternative open to them was to deny USG evidence as blandly as possible. They did the best they could, which was not too good.

6. I believe Egyptians (and Russians) have an obsession over danger of another surprise attack from Israel.6 There was consistent note of fear in FonMin’s presentation. My guess would be that they are now in final stages of disposing their defenses in Canal Zone against this contingency.

7. This development imposes cruel necessity on us make some very crucial decisions. I told FonMin that we would not have taken serious step of transmitting to him detailed facts of Egyptian violations unless we were [sure] of our ground. But let us run another check even though we are certain our margin of error could not be more than say 5 [Page 533] percent, and go back to GUAR. Let us maintain and intensify surveillance of UAR territory, and let Egyptians know we doing so.

8. Above all, our overriding interest is peace in this area and it just can’t be built without Egypt. UN Res 242 and Jarring Mission are only feasible bases for peace.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1156, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, June Initiative Vol. IV, August 28–November 15, 1970. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. A note at the end of the telegram indicates it was passed to the White House. All brackets are in the original except “[sure]”, added for clarity.
  2. Telegram 2018 from Cairo, September 4, reported that Riad stated that the United Arab Republic was “entitled” to move surface-to-air missiles “from one place to another inside the zone and to replace these missiles with others from outside the zone.” Riad also said that U.S. information that the United Arab Republic had violated the cease-fire was incorrect, that it had not “introduced new missiles to the specified zone” and “all existing missiles have been present on the day the cease-fire came into effect.” He explained that current UAR activities in the zone represented “maintenance measures” that were “essential for the safety and security of our personnel.” (Ibid.) Telegram 2019 from Cairo, September 4, reported Bergus and Wiley’s conversation with Riad in detail. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 2007 from Cairo, September 3, reported Bergus’s conversation with Riad after the former’s presentation. (Ibid.)
  4. On September 3, McCloskey read this statement: “Our latest evidence confirms that there have been violations of the cease-fire standstill agreement. We are not going into details. We are taking up this matter with both the U.A.R. and the U.S.S.R. through diplomatic channels. We are continuing to watch the balance closely and, as we have said previously, have no intention of permitting Israel’s security to be adversely affected. In the meantime, we believe it is of utmost importance that the talks between the parties under Ambassador Jarring’s [U.N. Special Representative Gunnar Jarring] auspices proceed forthwith.” (Department of State Bulletin, September 21, 1970, p. 326; brackets are in the original)
  5. Reference is to the belief among Arab states that the United States provided air support to Israel during the 1967 war.
  6. On September 5, Soviet officials in Moscow delivered an oral statement to U.S. Embassy officials regarding what they believed was a pending Israeli attack on Egypt: “According to information received by the Soviet Government, the Israeli Air Force intends to carry out on Sunday, September 6, bombings of a number of regions of the UAR in the zone of the Suez Canal beyond the ceasefire line . . . The Soviet Government expects that the Government of the USA will urgently undertake the necessary steps to restrain Israel from the dangerous actions it is planning, the entire responsibility for the consequences of which, under whatever pretexts they might be carried, would fully fall on Israel and the United States.” For the full text of the Soviet statement, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 202.