WASHINGTON (Sep. 17)
Lucius D. Battle, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South African Affairs, announced his resignation yesterday. His last important official mission before it takes effect on Oct. I will be a visit to Egypt where he is expected to meet with President Nasser. President Johnson has designated Parker T. Hart, Ambassador to Turkey, to succeed Mr. Battle.
The State Department announced today that Mr. Battle will leave tonight for Cairo, where he served as United States Ambassador from 1965 to 1967. He will be the first high State Department official to visit the Egyptian capital since Mr. Nasser broke diplomatic relations with the U.S. following the June, 1967 Six-Day War. This development was advanced by official sources today as one reason why the Administration was holding back approval of Israel’s bid to purchase Phantom jet supersonic fighter bombers.
Mr. Battle is going to Cairo on the invitation of the Egyptian Government to attend the opening of the Abu Simbel Temple, relocated to save the ancient shrine from the waters of the Aswan High Dam. Secretary of State Dean Rusk who was invited originally, despite the lack of diplomatic ties, asked the former envoy to go in his place and the Egyptian Government accepted the substitution. Officials here expressed hope that President Nasser will see Mr. Battle because of the heightened tension in the Middle East in recent weeks. They believe talks between the two might forestall another military escalation that could lead to war. State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey termed the invitation an “honor” accorded the U.S. Government in the absence of diplomatic relations. He cautioned against expectations that the visit would lead to the immediate formal resumption of diplomatic ties with Egypt.