WASHINGTON (Nov. 14)
President Kennedy today denounced the Senate amendment aimed at terminating aid to Egypt and warned that it might produce results opposite from those intended.
Mr. Kennedy, speaking at his press conference, cited the unfavorable repercussions of the American decision in 1956 to cancel aid to the Egyptian Aswan Dam project. He said that 80 per cent of American assistance to Egypt was in surplus food. He noted that Egypt was a poor and proud country and he did not think the wording of the amendment strengthened America’s hand in dealing with Egypt.
The President emphasized that he did not think such “threats” against Egypt brought the desired results. He admitted concern, however, because the withdrawal rate of Egyptian forces from Yemen was slow. He feared increased tension between Egypt and Saudi Arabia unless the withdrawal rate of Egyptian troops becomes faster.
The President made clear that if there are failures in the Middle East and other areas, the foreign aid legislation will be the cause, in his view. He cited the bill before with its cuts and restrictive amendments, as representing the worst attack on foreign aid since the beginning of the Marshall Plan.
He stressed that the President bears responsibility in foreign policy and in maintaining the influence of the United States abroad. He said he could not fulfill his responsibilities without a foreign aid program suitable to his needs. He asserted, “I need this program” and went on later in the press conference to criticize legislative restrictions imposed by Congress including the amendment aimed against Egypt.
WHITE HOUSE MAY SEEK TO AMEND SENATE RESTRICTION ON EGYPT
Meanwhile, Senate sources today made known that the White House may seek adoption of an amendment to amend the amendment adopted last week to restrict aid to Egypt
The original amendment required the President to rule that Nasser was neither engaging in aggression nor preparing for it if aid was to be continued. The wording coincided identically with wording previously approved by the House. This assured its retention in the final bill.
The Administration is discussing possible ways of killing the amendment against Egypt by changing the wording while the bill is still before the Senate. The Administration is said to feel that the present amendment “ties the hands” of the President and will “drive Nasser toward Moscow.” Another Administration argument has been that the amendment might “weaken the present American diplomatic influence which is now working in Cairo to safeguard Israel.”
However, chances of upsetting the original amendment are regarded as slim even though powerful shipping lobbyists are trying to get Senators to change their votes. The shipping interests are concerned over loss of revenue in the shipment of massive commodity supplies to Egypt. The original vote indicated heavy devotion to the amendment, the vote being 65 to 13. It has bi-partisan support.