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U.S. Officials See Continued Aid to Egypt As Israel ‘safeguard’

United States officials today stressed what they said was the necessity to continue aid to Egypt, in order to use American influence to safeguard Israel by modifying Arab attitudes.

The officials said that it would not be desirable to bring about a confrontation with the Nasser regime through severance of aid, and declared that the termination of the American role in Egypt would imperil Israel. They pointed out that the American presence in Cairo was very important, and suggested that American aid was linked with Arab failure to make war against Israel on the Jordan River diversion issue.

It was also stressed that the Soviet penetration of the region might be facilitated if America ended aid to Egypt.

U.S. officials said, in reviewing Egyptian policies, that there were many evidences of moderation during 1964. They added that President Nasser interceded to weaken enforcement of the Arab boycott affecting the Chase Manhattan Bank. U.S. officials also cited what they described as progress in obtaining compensation for U.S. property nationalized in Egypt. They said that Nasser was now trying to heal the scars of recent tensions, and had offered 1,000 books to help replace those in the burned U.S. Government library in Cairo.

MAINTENANCE OF ISRAEL’S SECURITY SAID TO CONCERN WASHINGTON

A prediction was made that the Middle East would be less quiet, and the danger of war increased if aid were terminated. In comments obviously designed to answer American organizations and members of Congress who called for severance of aid to Egypt, the officials took the line that a break with Egypt would endanger Israel and undermine American interests in the region. They said that a fundamental concern of the United States was maintenance of the security of Israel and for this reason continued American influence in Cairo was very important for Israel’s best interests.

The position taken by officials is that American-Egyptian relations will never be good, but that continued American presence in Cairo, through the aid program, is more desirable than a breakdown of contact between the two countries.

They said the Russians had provided more aid than the United States and might have played a subtle role in fomenting Egyptian antagonism toward America. It was made known that several approaches had been made to reconcile American-Egyptian differences, and that Egypt may have misinterpreted the U.S. position on aid. However, those officials feel that, if relations were otherwise perfect, such misinterpretation would not have caused the extreme reaction by Nasser.

U.S. officials also cited American strategic interests in preserving relations with Nasser. They referred to the Suez Canal, oil, the need for aviation access, and other factors.

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